‘As you think, so you shall become’ – Bruce Lee
It may sound a little optimistic (that’s kind of the idea) that you can become whatever you want to – including a massive success – through mostly thoughts alone. However Bruce Lee was certainly a successful guy, so it might be best to give him the benefit of the doubt on this one.
And if you talk to any other successful person they will say the same thing – that in order to become successful you have to think that you are successful, believe you’ll be successful and use powerful visualisation tools to imagine yourself in the position of success that you are striving to achieve. So how can this work? How can you ‘will’ yourself into success?
Well it works through several fairly logical mechanisms. The first is called a ‘self fulfilling prophecy’. That describes the fact that by believing yourself to be a certain way, you eventually make yourself so. In the most simple and straightforward example of that if you believe you are depressed you’ll get depressed about it, and if you believe you are happy it’ll make you happy.
Obviously when it comes to success the mechanism is a little more complicated as you just will not automatically get a new job or partner. However what will happen is that as you start to think of yourself as someone who either is or will be successful you will find it makes you more confident. You’ll have that knowing smirk and you’ll hold yourself differently when you walk around the office. At the same time you’ll start treating your work more seriously (if you are important then your work must be very important) and you’ll start dressing more carefully to wear clothes befitting of your success.
This will then of course mean you are better at your job already, and other people will notice this transformation and start to treat you differently. For example, say you are a guy and you want to impress a girl. However you start to think you are more attractive to girls so you start dressing better and being more confident when you speak to them. Suddenly you become a far more appealing prospect to potential female friends. The same goes in the office, when considering someone to promote then you’ll stand out as the guy who’s well dressed, takes himself seriously and who always gets the job done. The guy who looks successful. The key here is that if you want others to respect you, you need to make it obvious that you respect yourself.
This belief in your own success also obviously means you become more fearless and more ready to take risks. So you might give up your job and set up your own business which potentially will pay off in dividends. You would not even try doing that though if you didn’t believe in yourself and your business idea. In fact if you didn’t believe in yourself you probably would not even bother thinking up ideas in the first place.
Because someone with unshakeable self-belief is also by nature going to be more optimistic, and this means that they will see more opportunities. Many studies have demonstrated that optimistic people seem to be luckier. This is because they can take the positive out of a situation and thereby turn it on its head. It is also because optimistic people have been shown to notice opportunities more because they are open to them. Here negative people create a ‘schotoma’ or ‘mental blind spot’ where they become so determined that they are not successful and nothing good will come their way, that their brain stops them from seeing the great opportunities when they do arrive.
At the same time, by using visualisation to imagine yourself in the successful position you want you give yourself a more concrete target – you know all the things you want to achieve, and then it is just a matter of learning to get them. If you do not think about being successful then you will not know what you want so how are you supposed to go about getting it? Once you have a vision, your brain will start to find paths and ways to get yourself to where you want to be.
But even more than that, and here is the slightly creepy bit, positive people have also simply been shown to be luckier. In studies where the participants can have no impact on the outcome of the task (e.g. flipping a coin) the optimistic people were found to have things go their way significantly more often. Now that’s just weird… Do not argue, just start thinking yourself more successful!