Recently, I finished a round of golf with a gentleman, who, after hitting poor shots, berated himself with comments, such as “How could I be so stupid?” and “What in the world am I doing wrong?” He finished the game with a terrible score.
You may have heard someone asking himself similar types of questions or you may have been guilty of doing this, too. Here’s why such questions are dangerous to our success and well being.
In his audio tape, “The Strangest Secret,” Earle Nightingale compares our minds to the world’s most powerful computer. Most scientists agree that we only use a fraction of our mind’s potential. Nightingale says that when we ask ourselves a disempowering question, our mind searches for a corresponding disempowering answer.
So if you ask yourself why you can’t lose weight, your mind may just come up with an answer like this: “Well, what do you expect? You eat a lot.” If you ask why you can’t stick to an exercise program, your mind may answer: “Don’t worry about it—they’ll have a cure for all your health problems in a few years.”
Channeling your power
Nightingale explains that our mind does not distinguish good thoughts from bad ones. It simply searches our databank and returns an answer. He uses the example of planting two seeds in a field: corn—a healthy food, and nightshade—a powerful, deadly poison. If you water and fertilize them and make sure they get plenty of sun, the earth will return corn and nightshade without any distinction. It’s the same with our minds.
So, how do we channel this power? Here’s my personal experience. Many years ago, I started several diet/exercise programs without any success. After a few weeks, I simply gave up. At breakfast one morning, I asked my wife: “Why is it that I can’t seem to find a program that I can stick with?” She answered, “Try asking yourself a better question and maybe you’ll find one.”/p>
I finished my breakfast in silence, a bit annoyed that she’d accurately called me on my comment. But I did change the question to “What is it that I can do so that I enjoy my exercise?” No answer jumped to my mind. But as I got into my car that morning for my 16-mile, 50-minute commute, I looked over at my passenger seat and had an epiphany. Lying on the seat were motivational and inspirational tapes that I listened to during my commute.
The next morning, I popped one of the tapes into my walkman (this was way before MP3 players) and went for a 50-minute power walk. I did this every morning, and after nine weeks, I lost 15 pounds and successfully passed my ChFC exam because I listened to the study tapes during my walk.
The next time business is slow, don’t ask yourself why you can’t get anyone to buy from you. Your mind may come up with answers, such as “You offer lousy products,” or “'This is not the career for you.” Instead, reframe the question and ask: “What do my customers like the best about the work I do?” or “How can I find more customers like Mr. X (one of your top clients)?”
Put your mind to work for you and not against you. When you face a difficult situation or decision, frame your question into an empowering and positive one that will put your mind into this positive search mode. By asking yourself these million dollar-type questions, you’ll begin to channel your mind in the right direction.