15 MIN READ
Consider every creation and its origins. An idea pops into your mind, a need or desire yearns for a solution, an ‘aha’ appears out of seemingly nowhere and you can’t sleep as ideas for making it happen spring forth. Communities, cultures, businesses, families, new worlds burst on the scene having started as nothing more than ideas given the opportunity to grow.
So you might ask, does visualizing a desired outcome, a business, a dream, a partner, a better state of being increase your chances of getting there? Athletes have surely extolled the power of visualizing the perfect pitch or golf swing and oft repeated adages, a la Henry Ford’s wise words, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”
The belief here is that attitude and focused thinking can determine your success or failure with any given pursuit.
Similarly, Louise Hay, founder of Hay House Publishing inspired a culture of spiritual seekers with her practice of positive affirmations to guide new behaviors, create physical healing and desired life results outlined in her groundbreaking international sensation, “You Can Heal Your Life” book in the 80s. Hay dedicated her life to teaching people how to live a positive and empowered life with the aid of positive belief statements. She taught that your point of power is always in the present moment, where you plant the mental seeds for creating new experiences.
So too did Shad Helmstetter, Ph.D., praise the power of positive thinking throughout his career as an international best-selling powerhouse author of 16 books in the field of personal growth, including the classic “What You Say When You Talk to Yourself” and “The Power of Neuroplasticity,” both now published in a multitude of languages in over 65 countries.
Called “the pioneering dean in the field of self-talk,” Dr. Helmstetter was the first behavioral researcher to focus on the role of self-talk as a key programming source with the power to direct our failures or successes. In his work he has positioned our ‘self-talk,’ (what we say or think to ourselves), as having a substantive effect on the results yielded in our life.
In "The Power of Neuroplasticity," Dr. Helmstetter presents the scientific discovery that the thoughts we think physically rewire and reshape our brains and change our lives. He shares research from the field of neuroscience regarding how rewiring your brain can change attitudes, overcome negativity, improve health and personal goals, increase mental acuity and improve IQ—apply that to your business and see what happens!
Bringing Awareness to Our Thoughts
With this underlying premise of belief that we can adjust our thinking and thereby our personal or business results, consider your own thoughts. What might happen if you were to carefully direct the temper and direction of your thinking? And how do you first become aware of what you actually are thinking? A fond therapist from my past reminded me once that “You have to make things what they are before you can change them!”
What a novel thought. Considering how we sometimes sabotage our best intentions, might starting there bring us closer to creating better thoughts that might pave the way to more desired outcomes in our life?
If you wake up with the thought:
“I’ll never accomplish the tasks I’m assigned!”
Might you instead rally with a Louise Hay-like affirmation reframing your thinking with:
“Every day I find better solutions for accomplishing my most important goals.”
That reframing does several things. First it creates a path for new thinking:
“Every day I find better and better solutions.”
And secondly, it reframes your goals into:
“My most important goals.”
In that priorities are what you focus your time on, it might be that not all your goals get first billing. With your reframing of thoughts, might you work to create a new playing field filled with possibilities while eliminating the restrictions, i.e.:
“I’ll never accomplish the tasks I’m assigned!”
Nurturing Your Grand ‘Aha’ Moment
I remember well the beginning idea that caught my interest for what soon after became a 15-year tenure in now a former business I founded. My raw materials were a four-acre piece of overgrown property with a historic home in much disrepair. Having newly arrived to this small Georgia town, just outside of Atlanta, and recently married with three young stepchildren, I knew I needed a creative project to keep my busy and creative mind successfully engaged. I wanted something that my family could embrace with me in some way. My husband at the time had formerly lived in the home and had always dreamed of renovating it on a grand scale.
I recall clearly a conversation with a friend of his, who had been remodeling a nearby turn-of-the-century home for year by himself. He shared how he would at some point turn it into a retirement home as the boomer generation would be needing places for elderly care. We talked about the home that my husband and I owned and something hit me when our friend talked of ‘supply and demand’ from an aging boomer generation perspective.
I realize now, that thought was my pivotal seedling ‘aha’ moment!
This powerful awareness of his compelling thought took me by surprise and got my mind focused on sorting out options for our house and property in disrepair. I considered our friend’s thought, a business that had a clear ‘supply and demand’. I sifted through ideas, considering first how a restaurant might work in the area where we lived. I’d worked in hospitality and shared my father’s love of fine dining and adored the culinary arts. While doing seminal research I realized that relying on the ‘whim of the public’ to fill a restaurant and in this small town with so much worthy competition in nearby Atlanta, projecting cashflow would be a constant challenge and stressor.
I began brainstorming other options and hit on the idea of a wedding venue. I knew that weddings were a very celebrated event in the South and that planning typically happened six months to a year or more out, allowing for cash flow projections.
It’s these small moments or ‘ahas’ that we need to recognize and not dismiss as they are like oak tree seeds, they hold the power to create towering tall trees and develop mindfully planned and fortuitous dreams.
In researching other venues in the area and the construction and loan I’d require to renovate the property appropriately, to add the team I needed to grow quickly, I would need to include various profit centers. I considered the thought of adding a commercial kitchen to what I saw as forthcoming construction plans and a large ballroom for groups of 150+ to assemble. I considered too the possibility of developing a one-stop-shop differentiator to my brand providing floral design, in-house wedding direction along with the catering services.
Before speaking to my husband I wanted to literally ‘sleep’ on the idea. When I woke up my excitement had grown and I felt absolute clarity for this next project I wanted to pursue. Despite my lack of business experience, I felt confident in my ability to make it succeed. My additional research on the idea only bolstered my resolve.
My husband was quickly onboard and in love with what would be his job to renovate this historic gem while I envisioned and developed the business that I would build and the team I needed, imagining systems for running it successfully and the forecast of cash flow. He would also work with the banks as I put together the business structure, develop the website and began our marketing and sales strategies and activities while hiring the team who would get us up and running.
I began to see in my mind this stellar wedding venue, offering a host of services, catering, florals, wedding direction to capture the business in a growing multi-million dollar wedding industry. Together we put pen to paper considering renovations needed, the cost of adding on a large ballroom and manicuring the overgrown 4 acres into exquisite gardens. At the time it was the most exciting collaboration of my life!
I remember an early conversation over dinner at a small restaurant in the town where we lived. How I wished I’d kept the small napkin where we penned in rough numbers for renovations, start-up costs, projected revenue and how many weddings a month we’d need for breakeven status. Our calculations were certainly rough but the idea and the passion we each had for the different roles we would play was real and filled with excitement we could not contain. It would be our real collaboration together and one that I’m delighted to share continues to serve thousands of individuals yearly. And it all stemmed from a pivotal ‘aha’ moment.
Embracing the Joy of Creation
Fast forward several months, post $1.5 million loan approval, beginning bookings on the calendar and the start of my hiring a skeletal team. With a part-time finance person, full-time operations specialist, chef and a wedding director, along with a part-time service team, I served as marketing and sales person and began to book brides in the middle of deep construction and a mansion torn down to the bones. I led with my vision and my promise on what completion looked like. My prospects felt my excitement and trusted in my integrity to get the job done. Brides were booking up to 18 months in advance having seen clearly the completed vision I outlined for them and as I walked them through rooms under construction, reviewing architectural drawings and menus of the culinary creations that were to come.
I learned at this time that I could lead and influence others and also that I enjoyed a measure of risk. My confidence and thrill in creating services and a stellar facility, team and grounds to house this vision was palpable. I woke daily with resolve and energy that was moving mountains. I was in my element, each day feeding on the next as we saw progress being made and customers, eager brides lining up to partake in a vision that would celebrate theirs as well!
And When Adversity Comes
With our first wedding scheduled only several months away, we had a formidable glitch in receiving funds dispersed in time to manage the final stages in our construction and landscaping. Our construction deadline was aggressive and progress forward dire with our funding hiccup. I’d never seen my husband lose his cool so profoundly. His actions were justified as our bank did not keep their promise.
Add to that, spring rains were stalling construction even further and our careful schedule was faltering in a big way. My mind began to focus on the problems, the challenges we faced as doubt and fear began replacing the thoughts needed for driving us toward opening on time and keeping my promises to my clients, my brides (and their mothers)!
Informing a bride (and her mother/family) that her/their wedding needed to be postponed was unfathomable. I recall my panic and deep-seated fear when our carefully orchestrated plans began to shift and turn. The voices in my head were loud, from myself and many others shouting:
“What do you think you’re doing?”
“You’re out of your element, not qualified to take on a project like this.”
“You’ll NEVER open on time. Give them their money back.”
I remember the abject and paralyzing fear I had at that time. With that, my marriage was also not doing well. I was consumed with doubt, fear and regret for moving perhaps too fast. The tension in my marriage only heightened the angst that filled each day. Without a partner to navigate in sync through these business challenges, I felt further lost and alone.
Beyond Hearing: Listening to the Guidance that Comes
In the middle of all my reining doubts, fears and voices in my head, I remember having another thought epiphany, a flashing banner in my head that read,
“Move forward ‘as if’ you will be successful.”
As clear as lightning, this thought cut through all the others and despite my angst and fear, I heard. I didn’t just listen to the message, but I heard it and knew I had a choice. As a chatty person with an over-active mind, I’m not always savvy at hearing the guidance that comes, whether from another or in the thoughts within my own mind. I feel thankful to have been paying attention at this point and time as the wisdom of that thought guided me forward in a most revolutionary way.
My choice then: I could succumb to my own doubts and the voices of others telling me to quit or to cave into the delays, or I could rally forth and consider other and better solutions. I chose the latter and am so thankful I did.
Had I not, I might not have been able to serve the thousands upon thousands of individuals who visited my venue during my tenure there. I would not have been able to create jobs for the many, many workers who served my vision and cause. Ultimately, I would have not been afforded the opportunity to learn how good I could be at facing and moving past adversity had this challenge (and opportunity) not come my way!
With my new inspiration, I shrouded myself from the naysayers filling my brain and focused on thoughts that would take me forward. I considered solutions where I had none, conversation that hadn’t happened yet but that could take me forward. I began to envision the first event happening on time, the gardens finished, an easy resolve with needed funds, the right people approaching me for hire.
I went further to imagine the gardens completed, our carved wooden sign out front, the bride and groom descending the grand ballroom staircase, reciting their vows in the gardens and kissing under the weeping willow tree that was not yet planted! Each hurdle created a new opportunity for me to envision ‘better’, a better suited solution for what I needed.
As if by miracle new solutions came. We made headway with the bank, I adjusted expectations, rescheduled only one event and with some alternative funding solutions and working with my team, I opened my first event on time with a worker hammering the last nail into the wall as the bridal party came up the stairs.
These were not easy times; certainly my stress was high as I was new to business, new to negotiation prowess and new to this particular industry. I did know, however, that I have the ability to focus and have a tenacious and curious disposition. My husband believed in my abilities and went to bat with the bank where he could. I knew I could handle the rest. Though my marriage didn’t make it, I did, and I took on more responsibility and challenge than I ever imagined I could handle.
4 Key Areas for Embracing the Success You Imagine
- Clarify Where You Want to Go Personally and Professionally
- Identify the Thoughts That Limit Your Forward Movement
- Create Affirmations and Goals That Help to Get You There
- Remove the Obstacles That Get in Your Way
“Before you clarify where you want to go, your destination, you need to consider the highway on which you wish to travel!”
Below are a few key areas to consider developing within your company as you work to achieve the four goals listed above and as you work to envision and move your organizational objectives forward.
Attitude Starts at the Top
Attitude is infectious. Bad attitudes can infect the organization from the top-down. Likewise, positive attitudes and inspired thinking, along with courtesy, grace and great listening can also trickle down from leadership. Leading by example is the best way to shape and demonstrate to your team what you deem important.
Assuring that you as leader have created a clear culture of specific values to live by will direct your team during times of flow and times of challenge within your organization. Whether you are a one person or multi-person team, assure that you visit these value statements and discuss how the team is embracing them or if they need to shift to more fully embrace the key tenets that you (and your team) feel will help run your organization effectively.
Examples might include:
- Communication: preferences and style
- Using Systems: for organizational process flow
- Embracing Diversity: in talent and behavioral style
- Personal Excellence: Taking ownership in all you do
- Team Work: Working together for the highest good
Clarifying Where You Want to Go Personally and Professionally
Visualizing Your Success
Having a clear and concise vision statement helps direct you and your team. It needs to be just a few words, think Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ or my former company, Carl House, a special event venue specializing in weddings was, ‘We Create Extraordinary, Memorable Events’. These statements guide thinking for your team and let your customers know too what you are all about. Andy Stanley wrote two great books on vision, Making Vision Stick and Visioneering. In Visioneering, Mr. Stanley writes:
“Visioneering is the course one follows to make dreams a reality. It is the process whereby ideas and convictions take on substance…visioneering is the engineering of a vision. If I were to boil it down to a formula, it would look something like this:
VISIONEERING = INSPIRATION + CONVICTION + ACTION + DETERMINATION + COMPLETION”
As owner of my own small business, I found great value in creating a vision board, for my life personally and for my business which I collaborated on with my team. Consider taking time to have your team create a vision for their future life with work as a part of that vision. Similarly, have them collaborate with you on images and words that describe the organization you all are creating together. It’s a wonderful way to take your culture statements and expand upon them with clarity and images and to learn what is important to your team.
AJ Adams, a Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) shares in a piece in Psychology Today, Seeing is Believing: The Power of Visualization, a study where the brain patterns within weightlifters were studied. Learning how mental imagery impacts the cognitive processes leading to results without physical action is compelling!
“A study looking at brain patterns in weightlifters found that the patterns activated when a weightlifter lifted hundreds of pounds were similarly activated when they only imagined lifting. In some cases, research has revealed that mental practices are almost effective as true physical practice. For instance, in his study on everyday people, Guang Yue, an exercise psychologist from Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio, compared results of those who did physical exercises to the results of those who carried out virtual workouts in their heads. In the physical exercise group, finger abduction strength increased by 53%. In the group that did "mental contractions", their finger abduction strength increased by 35%. However, "the greatest gain (40%) was not achieved until 4 weeks after the training had ended" (Ranganathan et al., 2004). This demonstrates the mind's incredible power over the body and its muscles.”
Eilene Zimmerman wrote a piece in Forbes Magazine that highlighted some astounding results from an envisioning success survey submitted. The survey involved more than 500 small business owners who used visualization of their business goals through the use of vision boards, pictures and words. She states:
“This appears to be especially important for Millennial entrepreneurs, who embrace visualization in goal setting. Millennials have grown up using images to tell the story of their lives, with digital technology and social platforms like YouTube and nearly 60% of them said they used a vision board when establishing their business; 89% used one when developing their business plan.”
See her survey here: Survey on Visualizing Success
Lastly, motivational speaker and trainer, Jack Canfield has devoted his life and career to helping others achieve their own self designed idea of success. Mr. Canfield, shares here a ‘how to’ guide for creating a vision board for you and with your team. He asserts,
“Your brain will work tirelessly to achieve the statements you give your subconscious mind. And when those statements are the affirmations and images of your goals, you are destined to achieve them!”
For a tutorial from Jack Canfield on how to create a vision board.
#2. Identify the Thoughts That Limit Your Forward Movement
Making Things What They Are Before You Can Change Them
You have a head start. You’ve created the vision statement to guide your organization forward. You’ve identified key goals through words and photos on a vision board and engaged your team in the process. Now what?
What happens when those self-sabotaging thoughts enter the scene; the ones that bring you back to being the awkward seemingly incapable 11 year old who was teased for being skinny or for what you brought in your lunch bag. A very real case of ‘imposter syndrome’ looms as you rally to move forward with your clearly defined vision and the goals you have for your organization. (See Overcoming Imposter Syndrome from Harvard Business Review).
A recommendation that has worked for me goes as follows.
- Acknowledge the thought. Realize it has intruded upon your positive ecosystem like a virulent weed.
- Visualize the thought in your mind. What does it smell like, taste like, look like and feel like.
- Thank it for coming onto the scene to remind you of where you truly want to go. Share with this thought that it does not belong in your vision bubble and lovingly twist it off like a weed stem and let it recycle into the ether.
- This may sound hokey, but do so ‘with love’, as there is no harshness needed. Those protective or negative thoughts might have been protector statements that served you at one time. They are not needed now. Let them go!
- Immediately visualize the new intent and affirmation, vision and goal you are moving toward. See it clearly, feel it, smell it, thank it for arriving, taste it and express gratitude that it will now live in your vision bubble and with the right nurturing, grow and blossom into the thought or action that will create the business you intend to grow.
- End with, “thank you and so it is…I embrace all my great ideas for my business (my favorite part is coming)…or BETTER!”
And there you go. A process for acknowledging, thanking and releasing the thoughts that no longer serve where you are headed. Be vigilante…they’ll want to creep back in like Kudzu weed in the south. Those negative, dis-empowering thoughts have no place in your business and the new world you are mindfully creating for yourself, those who work with you and the people you love! You can do it!
#3. Create Affirmations and Goals That Help to Get You There
S.M.A.R.T. Goals and Reframing Your Negative Thinking
To reiterate, you are working to clearly and intentionally focus on the goals you want to achieve and what you want in your business and in your life. You’re using visualization as you spend time dreaming up solutions and next steps, as well as vision boards to emphasize what is important, along with words that affirm the direction you’re headed. You’re mindful about the less than helpful statements of self doubt or words expressed by non-supporting or hurtful people from your past. That’s a great start.
What’s next? As briefly shared above, you have the power to turn any negative statement to something you are working toward in a positive way!
For instance, when the following phrase hits you like a sudden downpour in the cold,
“I’m no good with people?”
As outlined above you might shoo the negative thought but also work to turn it into what you are affirming for the good. You might shift the thinking to:
“Everyday I do my best to be present to the people I work with and listen to what they need and patiently share what I need from them.”
“Everyday I appreciate my growing ability to relate to people in an interested and thoughtful way.”
Your negative statement might be:
“I’ll never create the revenue I need to grow my business!”
Your smarter affirmation might read:
“I find support and new resources to learn how to help people through my business every day. I look forward to serving the people who need me!”
Creating a vibration and intent for solutions and positivity is powerful and as outlined above, has proven results. The key, remembering to do so and suspended your disbelief! There lies the power!
Don’t Forget Your S.M.A.R.T. Goals!
Similarly, outlining yearly, quarterly and monthly goals is powerful. Goals without accountability factors built in are just wayward wishes.
What are S.M.A.R.T goals? S.M.A.R.T goals are typically defined as goals that are:
- Measurable (or Meaningful)
- Relevant (or Realistic)
As an example for a goal made ‘S.M.A.R.T.’ let’s imagine the you have a goal/desire to grow your business sales. Without any measures that’s a rather unspecific goal. You might consider: How many sales? In what time frame? Am I measuring new clients or revenue or both? Are marketing activities attached to your sales goal?, etc.
- S.M.A.R.T. = Specific
If you’ve determined that you are focused on working with high tech prospects and you want to bring in 170K a year of new business, and your average client brings in $3600 a year, your goal might begin as:
“I will bring in 4 new high tech clients a month averaging $3600 - per client.”
- S.M.A.R.T. = Measurable and Meaningful
Considering marketing support you’ve had to fill your lead funnel: Let’s imagine your past sales history and calculations tell you that it takes on average 9 qualified leads a month to get in 48 clients a year or on average 4 new clients a month. This will lead to creating other goals that will support your measurable and meaningful sales goal.
- S.M.A.R.T. = Achievable
It’s key to keep in mind if your goal is realistically achievable given the resources and skillsets you and/or your team has. You want to challenge yourself to push toward achieving your goal but not to the point where it’s impossible to attain.
- S.M.A.R.T. = Relevant and Realistic
Is this goal realistic and relevant when considered with the other responsibilities and duties you have and/or do you need support from others to reach this goal? Might you need to outsource marketing support to garner the leads you need as you work to convert them to prospect status and then to client.
- S. M.A.R.T. = Time-Bound
Can you reach this goal in the timeframe you assert? In the case of a sales goal, is it best to take the monthly goal and assess it quarterly in that some months might be slower in closing to client status and other months you might have a higher close rate? Might averaging results over a three month period make more sense?
Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals helps you project business growth forward with built in accountability measures in place. It’s important that when assessing your own and your teammates goals that they adhere to the S.M.A.R.T. goal criteria to assure you’re setting all involved up for the most success.
Remove the Obstacles That Get in Your Way
Taking Meaningful Action
Lastly, you’ve set your vision, supported it with positive affirmations, envisioning and vision boards and S.M.A.R.T. goals, you’ve identified self-sabotaging self-talk. My most meaningful work as a business owner came as a surprise to me.
After all the positive efforts I utilized to bolster the team around me, or to work to be in sync with friends, colleagues or family, when my efforts eventually proved ineffective and the nay sayers and negative folks in my world would not convert to something more helpful in my world, I ‘fired’ them!
Though it sounds harsh, it wasn’t, more of a process and way of being kind to me and frankly to the perpetrator as well. No more did I want my frustration with them to turn to anger, depression or rage, I learned to know when after ample efforts, that it was time to distance myself (or let a teammate, after ample coaching and documentation), go to a better fitting opportunity (or friend/colleague) for them. It’s not fair to you, your team, your family or the world to be in the midst of a mindset or actions that dampen your positive resolve.
This clearly is much more difficult to accomplish with family, though framing a clear boundary as to what behaviors, attitudes or words you will or will not accept into your world is fair and worthy of great respect.
You’re worth it! It’s your life! Envision the life you want to live!!
Envision the business that brings you joy!
In closing, if you want more business, or a better fitting client, or a new profit center, shift in your culture or a renewed vision, do it! Your business is just that: yours to develop, promote, nurture and at some point, potentially sell. With the envisioning, affirmations and goal setting shared, you’ll be on your way to creating a commercial and profitable business that you are both proud of and where you enjoy spending your time!
Best of luck to you!
About BB Webb, XYPN Sales Coach
XYPN Sales Coach BB Webb has a background in both the arts and as an entrepreneur. She first learned about sales while touring her one-woman play across country and later through successfully growing her award-winning Atlanta based special event venue, selling it 14 years later to make a move to Bozeman, Montana.
As XYPN’s Sales Coach, BB’s primary goal is to assist XYPN members in building great relationships, plans and processes for selling their services as Financial Advisors. With a focus on consultative selling, BB’s programs and resources are developed to guide members in creating their own systems and conversations for selling their unique services, fearlessly and with joy.