Do you believe in the self-fulfilling prophecy? And that your thoughts can open up opportunities – or lock you out of them?
As humans, we take what’s happening around us (the facts) and then immediately make them mean something. And the meaning we attach to the facts around us cause us to act and react differently.
For example, say you’re at the grocery store waiting in line at the checkout. It’s a long line and ahead of you is a man with a 4-year-old who is in the midst of a melt-down. You look over with this ‘Can’t you control your child?!’ gaze and take a deep breath. As the man starts putting his groceries on the counter he looks over at you apologetically and says “I’m sorry about this, but my wife just died and he’s just not taking it well.”
Immediately, your perception is altered. Instead of being annoyed, you want to hug the kid. But what happened hasn’t changed at all. The 4-year-old was having a melt-down. That’s all that happened. Two minutes before, you thought he was a spoiled brat. Now he’s a grieving child and your heart goes out to him. The only thing that changed is how you perceived the information AND how you were going to act based on that perception.
This scenario plays out thousands of times a day as we go along making business and marketing decisions. The news reports that the economy is not recovering and what do we make it mean? Spend less, work harder, panic, get paranoid, hunker down, ride it out, dread going to work. There don’t seem to be any other options. Fear is the driving emotion for all of our actions.
What kind of future can you see for yourself and others around you when these actions are in play? We actually begin to create the very thing that we are trying to avoid. In essence, we are creating the self-fulfilling prophecy of a bad economy.
How to Over-ride Your Thoughts and Create Opportunity
The first and most powerful thing you, as a business owner, can do is to recognize that our brains like to assign meaning to facts. Simply knowing that this is how our brains work, opens us up for other, more fun and interesting opportunities.
Try this for one day. Pull out a sheet of paper and create three columns. Call the first column “What happened.” Call the second column “What it means.” Call the third column “What else can I create out of this?”
See how many times you’ve limited your opportunities by coming to a conclusion way too soon about what it means to you, your customers and your business. More importantly, see how many new and interesting options and strategies you’ve come up with by simply taking the time to think it through.
Remind yourself that YOU are creating your future. Take the time to recognize what happened and what you made it mean. Then get to work on creating more profitable and powerful opportunities for your business.
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About the Author: Ivana Taylor is CEO of Third Force, a strategic firm that helps small businesses get and keep their ideal customer. She's the co-author of the book "Excel for Marketing Managers" and proprietor of DIYMarketers, a site for in-house marketers. Her blog is Strategy Stew.