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Posted: April 30, 2013

Best of CoBiz: Success secrets of world-class athletes and business leaders

Both know the key to creating a mindset of greatness

TC North

Olympic athletes and world-class business leaders have many of the same success secrets. Here is one:

They know how to control their fear, anger and frustration as part of creating a mindset of greatness.

Fear, anger and frustration wreak havoc on your success! These negative emotions, like all emotions, are created primarily by your thoughts, and thoughts trigger your emotions. If you control your thoughts, you can control your emotions and create the optimal mental/emotional state to maximize success.

Below are two ways to control your fear, anger and frustration. These help when used repeatedly.

1. Give yourself a reality check. What's the worst-case scenario, and what's the probability of it happening? When you can accept the worst case, you no longer need to fear it, which keeps your mind in reality. Olympic downhill skiers accept that paralysis or death is their worst case, but they never allow themselves to focus on it. Accept the worst case, but don't empower it by focusing on it!

2. Control negative thoughts. An Olympic boxer once said, "I don't have the luxury of having a negative thought." One negative thought creates a moment of hesitation, leaving an opening for his opponent to throw a punch that could kill him. You have the luxury of some negative thoughts, but if you want to be great, you don't have the luxury of many.

Here's a negative-thought control technique that has been successful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, sales professionals and athletes from high school to pro:

1. Recognize that you're having a negative thought. There are three ways:
a. Hear the thought in your mind. We chatter in our head up to 500 words a minute, so you won't notice most of the negative thoughts that go through your mind unless you train yourself to do so.
b. Notice how you feel. If you feel tense, have a knot in your stomach or your pits are sweating, what thoughts are you having that are creating your anxiety?
c. See yourself procrastinate. Procrastination is usually the result of fearful thoughts.

2. Stop the negative thought. Negative thoughts are the most treacherous of thieves; they steal your confidence, self-esteem and happiness! A negative thought that I've heard from sales professionals is, "I'll never make another sale!"

3. Replace the negative thought with a positive thought that is true (you can't lie to your own brain) and in your control. For example, a replacement thought for the negative thought above could be, "I have a great product/service that people want and I have an excellent sales process." Just stick to the process and relax. Notice the replacement is positive, true for the person saying it and 100% in that person's control.

4. Acknowledge yourself for taking control of your thoughts - behaviors that get rewarded increase.

This negative-thought control technique gives you more control of your negative thoughts, thereby giving you more control of your negative emotions (fear, anger, frustration, etc.). Unfortunately, negative thoughts come from a belief and thought pattern you've probably had for a long time (possibly since childhood). So you must continually stop, replace and acknowledge them until you can build a new thought pattern. It takes a lot of repetition!

In a recent workshop, one of the company's leaders said, "I didn't know you could control your thoughts." She was stunned by the awareness, but obviously excited. Most people don't know they can gain control of their thoughts. Now you do.

Will you do it? It's easy to do ... and easy not to do.

Dr. TC North is co-author of the Amazon bestseller Fearless Leaders. For 28 years, he has been a high-performance executive coach and speaker who helps individuals and organizations identify and attain their visions and dreams. He also has coached professional and Olympic athletes in the art of creating thoughts and emotions that maximize success. He’s a professional speaker on “Fearless Leaders” and “Master Fear.” Dr. North’s work has been featured on TV and radio and in business and scientific journals. Learn more at Contact Dr. North at 303-665-8920 or, or connect on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.





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Readers Respond

I've seen way too many good ideas torpedoed by negative thoughts as TC has described. They wear many different disguises, and too many of their victims (or perpetrators!) are not even aware of them. They're insidious. Another thing I've noticed about people afflicted by (or dispensing) negative thoughts is that they're not good to be around. Their negative thoughts can suck all the good energy out of a room, a team, a project or even a business. On the other hand, I've been associated with many groups that were full of positive energy. I love being a part of these groups and either participating in, or applauding, their success in spite of obstacles. There's a networking group of out-of-work professionals that meets every Monday morning in Northern Colorado. They radiate positive energy. Even if you arrive at the meeting with negative thoughts, you can't help but get rid of them, replacing them with positive thoughts before the end of the meeting. Because of their positive energy, this group has been extraordinarily successful at helping its members find jobs. By Ray Depew on 2009 11 20
Dick, you're correct about negative thoughts needing constant maintenance. This is a simple technique, which when applied continuously yields profound changes. Of all the secrets of success I have learned that differentiate world-class performers, this is the most popular technique for both the world-class and those who wanna be world-class. By TC North, Ph.D. on 2009 11 20
TC, Thanks for the reminder. Negative thought control is indeed a critical skill that needs constant maintenance. You helped me refocus my mind on the task. Dick By Dick Durrance II on 2009 11 18
Very helpful! By Leigh on 2009 11 16
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