If You Think You Can’t…by Jim Johnson

If You Think You Can…

Have you ever caught yourself saying, “I’m so stupid!”?  Or “I’m such an idiot!”?

On the surface, it seems that this common self-talk is, well, common.  We all have probably said this to ourselves at some point in our lives.  And there’s no harm with this, right?

Think again.

The Mayo Clinic has some examples of negative self-talk:

  • Filtering. You magnify the negative aspects of a situation and filter out all of the positive ones. For example, you had a great day at work. You completed your tasks ahead of time and were complimented for doing a speedy and thorough job. That evening, you focus only on your plan to do even more tasks and forget about the compliments you received.
  • Personalizing. When something bad occurs, you automatically blame yourself. For example, you hear that an evening out with friends is canceled, and you assume that the change in plans is because no one wanted to be around you.
  • Catastrophizing. You automatically anticipate the worst. The drive-through coffee shop gets your order wrong and you automatically think that the rest of your day will be a disaster.
  • Polarizing. You see things only as either good or bad. There is no middle ground. You feel that you have to be perfect or you’re a total failure.

When you or your teams engage in this, work suffers.  Customer service is diminished.  Results are clouded by cloudy thinking.  Focus is gone.


As common as this is, you can combat it and win. So can your teams.  How?

  • Feed your mind regularly with the positive. What are you reading?  Read something that is inspiring and motivating.  Listen to podcasts that move you, encourage you, stimulate you.  Listen to music that does the same.  Reduce the amount of TV you watch.
  • Don’t entertain gossip. Walk away from a negative conversation.  Call gossip out and ask that the topic become more positive.  People will get the message.
  • Coach your team using praise, encouragement, and specifics. They should know how they are performing.  They should not be guessing what you, their manager, thinks of them.  Give them clear goals and intentionally coach them towards success.
  • Here’s what the Mayo Clinic suggests:
    • Be open to humor. Give yourself permission to smile or laugh, especially during difficult times. Seek humor in everyday happenings. When you can laugh at life, you feel less stressed.
    • Follow a healthy lifestyle. Exercise at least three times a week to positively affect mood and reduce stress. Follow a healthy diet to fuel your mind and body. And learn techniques to manage stress.
    • Surround yourself with positive people. Make sure those in your life are positive, supportive people you can depend on to give helpful advice and feedback. Negative people may increase your stress level and make you doubt your ability to manage stress in healthy ways.
    • Practice positive self-talk. Start by following one simple rule: Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to anyone else. Be gentle and encouraging with yourself. If a negative thought enters your mind, evaluate it rationally and respond with affirmations of what is good about you.


I’m sure you want to set yourself up for success at every opportunity.  I’m sure you, as a leader, want your team to succeed.  Be aware of negative self-talk within yourself and on your team.  Don’t let this common obstacle become a deterrent to winning.


Source:  http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950?pg=2

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