“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.”
~ M. Scott Peck
I have filled each article in this series with quotations to encourage the use of quotes or to maintain a positive state of mind. Committed leaders make this a habit. These quotes come from experienced travellers who have navigated the roads ahead of us and know the challenges and opportunities of the journey. We can use their knowledge and experience to bolster confidence, guide us to an optimum attitude, and help us find our way or get back on track. We can also use them to calm doubt and assist us in staying focused on extrinsic motivation. Positive affirmations reinforce our beliefs and influence our thoughts and therefore, our focus.
Remember, our beliefs become our thoughts, which influence our actions, which create our results and develop our character. Therefore, it is very important to develop positive beliefs that reinforce what we want. This helps create disciplined thinking. Through this practice of reinforcing beliefs and maintaining a positive state of mind, we develop the most empowering perspective to navigate to the achievement of goals.
NAVIGATE: 1 to make one’s way over or through. 2 to operate or control the course of.
I have also provided definitions to many common words throughout this series. I believe that it is important to use words accurately and intentionally when we communicate with ourselves and each other. Communication is a powerful navigation tool and very necessary in the pursuit of our goals. The better we communicate, the more we understand and are understood. The more positive our communications are, the more positive we find the outcome. Without equal, communication skills lead us to more opportunities and provide access to more resources. Acquisition of long-term goals requires access to many different resources. Since these resources are most often found through human relations, communication becomes the most productive tool in gaining access. This explains why networking provides such valuable resources. It is safe to say that mastering communication is one of the most valuable skills a person can develop.
Words often have slightly different meanings than we think. There are many common words that are empowering yet have a perceived negative connotation. This can cause a person to avoid use of the word or perspective altogether. I will provide an example of three empowering words that are often misunderstood: confront, manipulate and exploit. These words are often construed as negative. But, if you embrace their simple definitions, you will find them empowering. The only time they seem to have negative results is when a person applies them with purely self-serving motives. This application of motive is rarely necessary and usually only produces intrinsic, short-term benefits.
CONFRONT: 1 to face especially in challenge. 2 to bring face-to-face.
MANIPULATE: 1 to operate by mechanical means. 2 to manage or utilize skillfully.
EXPLOIT: 1 to make productive use of. 2 to utilize fully.
As you can see, these are empowering words that serve us when we apply them in the simplest terms. After all, do we not confront, manipulate and exploit each set of stairs we encounter in our path? It serves us to embrace the simple meanings of these words as we apply them to the obstacles we encounter. It is important to understand and believe that you can confront, manipulate and exploit your challenges without negative connotations. These perspectives become necessary to navigate and to lead. This is a good example of how you can simply change your beliefs and cause your thinking to support the pursuit of your goals. There are other empowering words that we misunderstand and avoid. They will make themselves known as you become more aware of the simple meanings of words by expounding upon vocabulary.
Staying on Course
When we begin a journey, we have a vision of where we want to go and a plan of how to get there. As we find ourselves along the road, we discover many obstacles and challenges that serve as distractions and take us off course. They test us and our resources. The reason I recommend we choose our priorities before we make our plan, is that those priorities become a guide in deciding how to deal with each particular distraction we experience on our journey. This is also where we find the opportunity for resources we need to continue the journey. Our priorities help us decide which is which. When we do get distracted, they help to put us back on course.
This is why navigation needs to be part of our plan and how we use our priorities to help navigate and keep us focused on the destination. I am reminded of what I learned many years ago from pilot training; from the take-off to the landing, an airplane is always off course. Since the earth is round (and airplanes fly in a series of straight lines) every few minutes, a navigational adjustment is made to put the plane back on course. This is repeated until the destination is reached. Navigation is a constant necessity that is factored into the plan and process. Inasmuch, successful navigation is necessary to reach the goal.
Keeping our energy focused on our goals is very difficult. Our state of mind becomes very influential in the result.
Often I amuse myself with the analogy that I am a noun and a verb (my name being Will). I often focus on the thoughts; I am Will – I will! This little wordplay reminds me of my potential to rally my willpower and it always gives me a bit of a lean forward attitude. It is a simple trigger that I developed that has a positive encouraging and motivational effect. There are many thoughts and words that are empowering for me. We all use them in our everyday life. We can use words to influence our thinking at any given time of need. When we use them to control our state of mind, our thoughts and then our actions become invaluable navigation tools.
I have arranged eight words on a compass. Each one of these words empowers me and creates a positive state of mind. I constantly use them as tools to redirect energy toward any particular obstacle or challenge. I chose these words because I find them helpful in diffusing my distracting emotions and empowering my perspective toward accountability and solutions. They bring my energy and focus to a more purposeful effort. I choose one of the words that seem to best optimize my state of mind to confront a particular challenge. One of them usually stands out as something I need to exercise more of at that moment. It is not uncommon to apply more than one of these principles at any given time. Sometimes they may all be necessary to advance.
AWARENESS: 1 the state of being aware. 2 realization, perception or knowledge. 3 watchful.
HUMILITY: the quality or state of being humble.
RESPONSIBILITY: 1 the quality or state of being responsible. 2 moral, legal or mental accountability.
GENEROSITY: the quality or state of being generous.
SELF-RELIANCE: having confidence in and exercising powers and judgment.
CONFIDENCE: 1 the quality or state of being certain. 2 belief that one will act in a right, proper and effective way.
INITIATIVE: energy or aptitude displayed in initiation of action.
GRATITUDE: 1 the state of being grateful. 2 thankfulness.
Each of these principles can stimulate positive conscious thought. We can develop the habit of using these thoughts to bring our energy to focus on adjustment and forward movement toward a goal. To navigate optimally, we must be aware and focused. As we discussed with professional athletes, they focus on what they want to happen and block out distractions. Then, they commit all available resources and energy to see the task done. When you are in an agitated or frustrated state of mind, your peripheral vision is limited. You will not see all the signs or reasonable options. If you are too eager or too aloof, you will overlook obvious signs. If you become too self-absorbed, your motives will become intrinsic and your perspective limited. Any of these situations can distract you from the focus necessary to achieve long-term goals. In each case, you will overlook signs that will help you navigate. A disciplined state of mind is necessary to optimize leadership and navigation. Affirmative words are effective tools to achieve that state of mind.
Those who have studied the great civilizations in history know that none were conquered from the outside; they fell from within, under the collapse of their own weight. For example, the Roman Empire and its leadership became consumed with intrinsic, personal motivations. They underwent decades lacking in discipline, responsibility, productivity and accountability. The masses became dependent on the few. Despite countless signs that warned the fate of a continued course, they never altered. Evidently, for those pressed by the challenges of governing and navigation, securing and maintaining privilege, power and control became a bigger priority than maintaining the Empire. Can there be a better example of lack of navigation? Their society was off course for generations while no significant efforts were made to correct the course. One would think that, by being that far off course for many years, it would be obvious what choices were necessary. They let each problem stack on top of the last until it was all too much to bear. I see many of these same attitudes today in modern society. My point is that, the signs are always there. Let me repeat; the signs are always there! All we have to do is look for them, read them and respond to them. Hopefully we can do so with the proper state of mind – through gratitude, awareness, humility, initiative, generosity, self-reliance, confidence and responsibility.
This program was delivered in eight parts; Motivation, Goals, Priorities, Planning, Organizing, Initiative, Obstacles and Navigation. Each of these is a principle part of a process that proves effective in the pursuit of achieving your goals. Results become predictable when our priorities and plans are consistently applied with focus and discipline. Learn these principles and commit them to habit. Seek out and absorb reinforcing material. Make it a priority to develop beliefs that support affirmative thinking and cause the actions that take you toward the progress you seek. Develop confidence and self-reliance by taking responsibility and accountability for your results and state of mind. Maintain awareness of your motivations. Keep journals. Navigate. Develop your vocabulary and communication skills. Reflect often on the Hierarchy of Human Needs and how you are tending your long-term development. Focus on what you want to happen. Direct your energy on your weakest areas of discipline and commit to progress. Expose yourself with like-minded influences that reinforce what you want. Use affirmations to keep a positive state of mind. Mastering these principles takes time. Remind yourself constantly: what one can do, another can do; knowledge is power – all the things we can need or want are available to us; it is up to us to seek them out by making them a priority.
William Strunk is the publisher of DERMASCOPE Magazine, founder of WES Publishing Co., founding partner with Avalon Media Group and a partner with the International Congress of Esthetics & Spa. As an entrepreneur for over 30 years, an author and lecturer, Strunk conducts motivational seminars and results oriented workshops on successful business practices. Having started his first business as a teenager, he shares successful behavioral practices that are not taught in business schools. Rather, learned from a lifetime devoted to motivational training and developing relationships with hundreds of other successful entrepreneurs.