Harnessing the Power of Positive Thinking for Career Progression

Understanding and addressing the five psychological challenges that anchor us in a cycle of negative thoughts can elevate us to a higher, more productive mindset. This leads to clarity, focus, and belief in oneself—fundamental ingredients for a thriving career.

Numerous professionals find themselves berating their errors and inadequacies, clinging to the mistaken belief that this harsh self-scrutiny will push them to excel. 

They fear that being too lenient with themselves might make them complacent. Both notions, however, are misguided. 

Self-judgment after setbacks is detrimental to career growth. Evidence suggests that it amplifies the negative impact of setbacks, making recovery harder. It also increases susceptibility to anxiety and depression, setting up further roadblocks to achievement.

Adopt a Fresh Outlook, Not Frustration

Competitive athletes have long understood that the mental approach to high-stake situations can be the determining factor for success or failure. This holds true for workplace accomplishments and career progression. Encountering stress, disappointment, and setbacks is part and parcel of any professional journey. At times, they can lead to such profound disillusionment that our self-assurance dwindles, and our motivation to persevere weakens. But by adopting a fresh outlook rather than succumbing to frustration, you can propel your career forward. 

Legendary basketball player Michael Jordan encapsulated this mindset with his quote: “I’ve failed over and over again in my life, that is why I succeed.” This wisdom can be translated to overcome any professional hurdle: “Every setback brings us closer to our next victory,” if we persist instead of abandoning our efforts.

Five D’s to Overcome Negativity

Life’s unpredictability extends to our career paths—we can’t control every obstacle or setback. However, we can control our reaction to them. A positive mindset is indispensable for professional success. Jon Gordon’s recent book, “The One Truth: Elevate Your Mind, Unlock Your Power, Heal Your Soul,” presents strategies for individuals and teams to combat negativity. He points out that our minds often hold us back, unbeknownst to us. Once aware of the hidden elements that dampen our mindset, we can shift to a more positive perspective, overcome any challenge, think with more clarity, and move from self-doubt and fear to unwavering confidence and strength. Gordon proposes the five D’s that can counteract negative thinking and hinder performance:

1.  Doubt. Learn to trust and realize that negative thoughts are falsehoods. 

2.  Distortion. Cultivate gratitude. Consider going on a 20-minute “appreciation walk.” 

3.  Discouragement. Be your own cheerleader. Jot down negative thoughts on one side and encouraging words on the other. 

4.  Distraction. Concentrate on the most important thing: YOU. Being the best version of yourself helps bring out the best in others. 

5.  Division. Foster unity within your team through appreciation and positivity. Rather than dwelling on mistakes, underperformance, letting people down, or criticism, focus on the joy derived from your work and cherish the journey. 

When these five mental hurdles are identified and addressed, we can elevate ourselves to a higher state of mind—thus fostering clarity, focus, belief, and confidence that contribute to career success. 

Notably, Sean McVay of the LA Rams, Matt LaFleur of the Green Bay Packers, and Dabo Swinney of Clemson have integrated this five-step exercise into their off-season programs this year to boost their mindset and meet their performance objectives.

Support Rather Than Criticize Yourself

Before providing every single detail about the job, ask the candidate to walk through what they’ve been doing. It limits their ability to focus on what you need most and should give you a better sense of what they’ve been focused on and want to do next.

Here are 2 questions that we swear by: Why are you looking for a new job, and what is your ideal job? In no time, the heartfelt answers will bubble to the surface, providing you with valuable insights.

Whether tackling major crises or minor nuisances, self-compassion is akin to a supportive friend who encourages you when you’re disheartened, helping you move closer to your objectives. Cultivating the ability to comfort oneself during disappointments—rather than self-blaming—can enhance wellbeing and foster the courage and confidence required to confront virtually any professional challenge.

This article was originally written by Amelia Matthews.


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