September 26, 2011 | Barb Carr

Career Development: Train the Mind

Success in a job and in life requires more than just doing it well. It also requires that you have confidence in yourself. That confidence comes from your life’s experiences and strength of character and your knowledge, skills and abilities. Here are a few tips to help you enhance your positive mindset.

Shape it.

An iron will, a positive can-do spirit and attitude, not skill sets alone, will set a person apart from the crowd.

Paul Stoltz and James Reed said in “Put Your Mindset to Work” that 96% of top employers worldwide say they’d hire a person with the desired mindset over one with perfect qualifications. Ninety-one percent of them also said they would promote; 81% would grant pay raises and 68% would retain people with that positive, can-do spirit and attitude. When Stoltz and Reed asked the top employers whether a person with the right mindset develops the perfect skill set or vice versa, 98% picked the former.

Ability has nothing to do with opportunity.” ~ Napoleon Bonaparte, French emperor

Develop perseverance. Develop it, nurture it and enhance it.  Resilience, intensity and tenacity will help you take on the world and overcome just about anything you can imagine and even a few of life’s challenges you can’t imagine. True grit will help you improve in the workplace and in your personal endeavors, as well. The latter point is, of course, the most vital because everywhere you go, there you are. You take everything about you … with you.

“Concentration and mental toughness are the margins of victory.” ~ Bill Russell, basketball player

Broaden the horizon. Commit and enroll yourself to understand and demonstrate a big picture (strategic) perspective of your position and your organization.  Make education a continuous process by reading books and on line material to help you grasp the scope and direction of your industry. Broaden your horizon by reading books and other materials outside your professional realm and comfort zone. Read books on poetry, history, faith and spirituality. Tim Sanders, author of “Today We Are Rich: Harnessing the Power of Total Confidence” agrees and suggests to, “Read one book a month that improves your ability to lead your organization or perform in your role.”  He also alludes to Napoleon Hill’s classic, “Think and Grow Rich,” which promotes brainstorming sessions to enhance specialized knowledge. Enhance your competence by learning everything about your role and the roles of others around you. In many careers, military, fire and law enforcement, to name a few, this philosophy can save a life…yours and others.

Believe you’re good. If you don’t, who will? What your mind conceives and believes, you can achieve. The faith that you can accomplish just about anything you set your mind to accomplish, coupled with your self-confidence, is rocket fuel to the mind. Then all your mind needs is a match. Success builds success and so do failures. Like the Earth’s magnetic core, our mind’s a magnetic core, too. When we experience success, our internal magnetic core (values), our competence, courage, compassion(love), integrity, duty, honor and perseverance is made stronger and more resilient with ‘pennies,’ ‘nickels’ and ‘dimes.’ However, when we experience failure and overcome adversity and choose to learn and grow, our internal magnetic core (values) are strengthened and thickened with ‘half-dollars’ and ‘silver dollars.’ A belief that you’re good is self-confidence, NOT arrogance and conceit and that you’re beyond reproach.

Rehearse before the spotlight’s focused on you.  Don’t hurry through your briefing or power point presentation. Know your material and your audience! Have a dry-run with a mock audience that knows to ask relevant questions. The self-assured people I know are often calm, persuasive, innovative, not frightened to take calculated risks and have a strong sense of humor. They are open, human and vulnerable and take what they do quite seriously but never take themselves too seriously. According to Sanders, “Research indicates that confidence is as important as experience for leaders of all types.”

Happiness is the absence of the striving for happiness.” ~ Zhuangzi, philosopher

Play well with others. No matter how good you are in your job or how good you THINK you are, if you demean people, talk down and embarrass them in the process the cost in terms of lost productivity, morale and potential customers is large. Similarly, if you think and behave in the same manner in your personal life, you’ll have some acquaintances but few true friends. That doesn’t equate to a list of positive references. If “Yes, he was employed here” is the only testimonial your employer provides on a referral application, the time to take a long and objective look in the mirror and an attitude adjustment is long overdue.

I don’t let my mouth say nothin’ my head can’t stand.” ~ Louis Armstrong, musician

Challenge yourself. When you become a mentor to others, it can be up uplifting and personally rewarding. This process can help free you of old ways of thinking and break some paradigms. It can also increase your value to the organization. When you mentor others you are a mentor to yourself, too.

Share the positive vibes. When you arrive at work, don’t instinctively dive into your email, relevant news reports or answer phone calls. Take some time and inject more enthusiasm into your staff. According to Sanders, one way to do this is to change some of your phraseology. How? Change the internal script and the words you use. Ask, “What’s the good word today” instead of “how’s it going?”  Similarly, when you meet with your team(s) or project partners, “Begin with an emphasis of what’s going right,” Sanders said.

Feed your mind properly. Be just as aware of what you allow into your mind as the food you put into your body.  Negative-minded people and words they use; a constant focus on bad news and the repetition that often follows, your mind will eventually fill with negative thoughts, emotions and uncertainty. To the best of your ability, choose to hire and socialize with upbeat, positive minded people who have shared values, vision, purpose and goals. When you hire and associate with depressants, negative-minded, self-absorbed, over-indulgent people, their attitudes and behaviors are contagious.

“So far God, I’ve done all right. I haven’t been greedy, grumpy, nasty, self-absorbed or over-indulgent. But, in a few minutes…I’m going to get out of bed and I’m going to need a lot more help. Thank you.” ~ George’s Prayer at web site

We have two colons: one is in our gut. It’s our biological immune system. We ARE what we eat. The other colon is between our ears. It’s our mind, memory and attitude. When we fill it with good ‘food’, positive affirmations and positive images, good things will happen. I know because it’s worked for me!

If I’d known how old I was going to be I’d have taken better care of myself.” ~ Adolph Zukor, movie mogul


This article was reprinted with permission from the author, “Captain George” J. Burk, USAF (Ret).  Captain Burk is a Vietnam veteran, plane crash & burn survivor, author & writer.  Learn more about Captain Burk on his website:

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