By Howard Stanten MPT, CPCC
I’m not a fan of hearing folks blame outcomes on how positive or negative a person’s thinking is.
There is no doubt that positivity plays a key role in achieving our big goals. Here’s the rub. It doesn’t get you anywhere without courageous action. That is, doing something outside of your comfort zone.
Yes, a positive mindset is important, and it does not on its own determine anything. The idea that simply repeating positive affirmations will somehow by itself produce opportunities and results provides false hope.
As Robert Fritz says in The Path of Least Resistance,
“Positive thinking is a willpower strategy designed to help people exert their will over themselves as a kind of self-manipulation…There is no need to control yourself…You have a natural inclination toward creating what you most truly want…. There are no inner forces you must overcome, only inner forces that might be aligned organically as part of the creative process. This is not programming yourself, but rather working with all of the forces in play-including the forces you may not especially like.”
Fritz is a critic of using positive thinking and affirmations as tools for change. Repeating “I have all the confidence I need to move forward” when the truth is “my fear is holding me back” is telling myself a lie. And, lies don’t help move us forward. In fact, a key component of Fritz’s model for creating the life you want is grounded in a sober assessment of life as it actually is; the good, the bad, and the ugly.
A positive mindset doesn’t involve telling ourselves lies about our current reality. It does involve choosing to be inspired by the life we want to create. This inspiration provides the foundation to plant one foot and just enough light to guide the other foot into taking the next step towards creating what we want.
The “Positive” in Positive Action means getting our head around the fact that we can as Fritz says, “Learn to become the creative force in your own life.” The “Action” means taking steps forward without having to know exactly how we’re going to get to where we want to be.
In fact, it’s not possible to accurately map the whole thing out ahead of time. As you act, you will bump into a world that will have its say.
The “world’s say” is feedback: YES, MORE OF THAT! Or NO, NOT THAT! Letting the feedback be our guide (not our excuse for giving up), we reconnect to our vision, plant one foot, and step with the other. In this way, we are engaging the power of Positive Action.
Positive Action means choosing to be in the process of continuously creating the life we want. And, it’s not about “willing” it that way by telling ourselves things that aren’t true. It’s about honestly acknowledging and accepting all of who and where we are.
And, from that place of truth, it’s about giving a damn enough to do something about the life we want to create.
Howard Stanten MPT,CPCC is an Executive Leadership and Professional