By Brian Tracy, ETR
When I was 21 years old, a friend of mine and I decided to go off to see the world. Many of our friends were going to Europe and hitchhiking around with rucksacks. We decided to be different and go to Africa.
We had no idea how serious and how difficult this adventure was to be. As we drove south across the Sahara Desert, we encountered endless problems, any one of which could have finished our trip … or our lives.
The prospect of getting across that immense desert was so daunting, it could have stopped us dead in our tracks. Instead, we learned a lesson that turned out to be one that I have since applied to every aspect of my life.
The French, who had controlled Algeria for many years, had marked a path across the desert with 55-gallon oil drums spaced exactly five kilometers apart. As we came to an oil drum, the next drum would pop up on the horizon and the last oil drum would fall off the horizon, as if shot in a shooting gallery. Wherever we were, we could always see two oil drums – the one we had just left and the one we were headed toward. And it looked like our journey was never going to end.
We could have thrown up our hands and said, “This is impossible!” But we didn’t. We adopted a Positive Mental Attitude and realized that to achieve our goal, all we had to do was take it one step (one oil barrel) at a time.
A Positive Mental Attitude is indispensable to success. By focusing on doing what lies clearly at hand … by taking the step that appears immediately in front of you … that will automatically lead you to the next step, and the next, and so on. Eventually, you will find yourself where you want to be.
But there is much more to a Positive Mental Attitude than this. You can have a positive attitude that immediately disappears in the face of adversity … or you can have an attitude that is so strong, you are able to remain positive, cheerful, and optimistic, no matter what.
Of course, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Because we are all faced with four obstacles that tend to get in the way of our maintaining a Positive Mental Attitude: fear, worry, anger, and doubt.
We are afraid that we will lose our money, waste our effort, or forfeit our emotional or physical investment. If we are not careful, we start thinking of our potential losses rather than focusing on our potential gains.
Fear triggers worry, and we begin to use our power of imagination to create all sorts of negative images that interfere with our ability to perform effectively.
Fear and worry create anger and doubt. Instead of constantly moving forward in the direction of our dreams, we turn ourselves into victims and begin to blame other people and other situations for our problems.
There are six things you can do to eliminate these obstacles and develop a Positive Mental Attitude:
1. Instead of worrying about who did what and who is to blame, focus on where you want to be and what you want to do. Get a clear mental image of your ideal successful future, and then take whatever action you can to begin moving in that direction.
2. Focus on the solution instead of wasting time rehashing and reflecting on the problem. Solutions are inherently positive, whereas problems are inherently negative. The instant that you begin thinking in terms of solutions, you become a positive and constructive human being.
3. Assume that something good is hidden within each difficulty or challenge. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, a major proponent of positive thinking, once said, “Whenever God wants to give us a gift, he wraps it up in a problem.” The bigger the gift you have coming, the bigger the problem you will receive. And if you look for the gift, you will always find it.
4. Assume that the situation you are facing at the moment is exactly the right situation you need to ultimately be successful. This situation has been sent to you to help you learn something, to help you become better, to help you expand and grow. One of the affirmations I have learned to use is this: “Every situation is a positive situation if I view it as an opportunity for growth and self-mastery.” You cannot say that without thinking positive thoughts, feeling positive emotions, and seeing positive actions that you can take.
5. Assume that every setback contains a lesson that is essential for you to learn. Only when you learn this lesson will you be smart enough and wise enough to go on to achieve the big goals that you have set for yourself. If you are busy looking for the lesson, you cannot simultaneously think about the difficulty or the obstacle. And you will always find the lesson.
6. Whenever you have a goal that is unachieved, a difficulty that is unresolved, or a problem that is blocking you from getting where you want to go, sit down with a pen and piece of paper and make a list of every single thing that you could possibly do to resolve the situation. As you write, all kinds of insights and ideas will pop into your head.
A Positive Mental Attitude is indispensable to your success. And all it takes is for you to always take these six actions that are consistent with achieving your goals rather than actions that make you feel the negative emotions of worry, doubt, anger, and fear.
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