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Use Exceptional Thinking to Pump Up Your Business

Don’t let “quicksand thinking” and other negative habits foil your business success.

By Lee Jampolsky, Ph.D.

Your prospects, clients and even your community judge you and your business based on your attitude and your language. If you or your employees act and speak negatively or settle for the status quo, you send the message that your company is without vision or leadership and probably incapable of delivering quality service. People want to do business with people they perceive as positive, skilled and able to overcome obstacles.

Exceptional Image

You and your employees’ attitude and language reflect your professionalism and move your company to new levels of success; so don’t settle for negative thinking. Instead, use the following methods to develop the kind of exceptional business environment that will keep your customers coming back and your business growing. Be sure to share these ideas with your employees.

Nothing is more important in any given moment than focusing on what you can do, rather than on what you can’t.
1. Get rid of the “yeah, buts.”
Deal with “yeah, buts” in the same way you control weeds in your yard: by “pulling them out” one at a time. Negative thoughts—just like weeds—will rapidly grow out of control unless you stop them. Nothing is more important in any given moment than focusing on what you can do, rather than on what you can’t. When you have a “yeah, but” moment, ask yourself, “Does this ‘yeah, but’ have to limit my success?” You’ll quickly realize that it doesn’t. You can then reframe your statement to focus on the positive rather than the negative. Above all, teach your employees the power of positive thinking by demonstrating that difficult circumstances may be unavoidable, but failure is optional.

2. Stop playing the “if only, then” and the “when, then” game.
Quicksand. Just the word conjures up images of an old Tarzan movie: A naive visitor to the jungle takes that fateful step into the pit of sludge, thinking it is solid ground, and then starts flailing about and sinks rapidly. Quicksand thinking, as the term suggests, is when you step into a disguised and dangerous way of thinking and begin to sink faster than the poor fellow in the Tarzan movie. The most common forms of quicksand thinking in business are “if only, then” and the “when, then.” When you engage in “if only, then” thinking, you believe that meeting your goal is impossible because of something that occurred in the past. When you engage in “when, then” thinking, you believe that achieving your goal is conditional upon something happening in the future.

The first step in getting out of quicksand thinking is recognizing that you have fallen into it. The following is a list of “if only, then” and the “when, then” statements that are often heard in the business world. Have you caught yourself using any of these?

Favorite “if only, then” beliefs

  • If only I had not done what I did, then I could be successful.
  • If only I was not under so much pressure, then I could be more effective.
  • If only I had a better support staff, then I could meet my goals.
  • If only I had better leads from management, then I would make the sales.

Favorite “when, then” beliefs

  • When I have more of a budget, then I will be able to meet expectations.
  • When I get promoted, then I will give it my all.
  • When I am back from vacation, then I will address this problem.
  • When I find the right assistant, then I will be freed up.

When you find yourself in quicksand thinking, be still. Remind yourself that, “This way of thinking is sinking me!” Next, choose to change the way you think and try a new approach. It may sound too simplistic, but it works! Remember to focus on what you can do, rather than on what you can’t.

Lee Jampolsky, Ph.D., is a psychologist and author of several books including Walking Through Walls. He is a speaker and leader on creating a positive attitude, setting and obtaining goals, motivating individuals and teams and achieving peak performance. For more information, go to or call 831-659-1478.


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