Leadership

Focus Pocus - Put Focus on Top of Your To-Do List

By Cindy Yantis

Fifteen phone messages need to be returned, 55 emails need to answered, the laser printer needs ink, a proposal needs to be written for a sales pitch, an annual report needs to be delivered in a half hour, your son called and forgot his baseball uniform, six employee evaluations sit on your desk - due yesterday, you have to reschedule a lunch meeting for twenty, oh and Hugh Jackman is on the Today Show...and it's only 9:15 a.m.

What do you do first? Does your list of tasks, obligations and deadlines leave you sitting paralyzed at your desk?

I recently re-read two books which continually have a profound impact on my life and career. It's hard to fathom that "Think & Grow Rich", by Napoleon Hill, was first written in 1937 because the principles still hold so true today. In fact, if you ask many of the top leaders currently, they'll tell you they built their formulas for success based on Napoleon Hill's brilliant insights and foresight. His book has become the Kleenex, if you will, or the generic brand, of platforms that teach us to focus on what we truly want in life as well as a clear blueprint to turn big thoughts into big reality.

The second book is "The Power of Focus", by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Les Hewitt, in which they layout a guideline for attaining clear focus on goals and creating new habits that lead to success. They say, "success isn't magic or hocus-pocus, it's simply learning how to focus."

A key attribute for being a strong Leader is to be a Multi-Tasker. An effective multi-tasker can have several projects going on at once, but to be truly effective, one must use what I call "Focal Point Clarity," which means peeling back the clutter around the current task so that it becomes your singular focus of the moment.

A great illustration of Focal Point Clarity was in the film, THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE. Matt Damon played a golfer who had the ability to focus so clearly on the ball going into the cup that literally everything disappeared from his mind's eye except the ball, his club, the flag and the hole. There were no trees, no screaming crowd, no judge and jury, no wind, no mind clutter. Just his focal point - putting the ball in the cup. It's worth watching the YouTube clip if you can find 6 minutes.

Napoleon Hill said, "Hold a picture of yourself long and steadily enough in your mind's eye, and you will be drawn toward it." The same principle can be used for a task on your growing list of to-do's. Here are some tips to help you focus and get to Focal Point Clarity.

  • Stop to prioritize - list by due date and how long you think it will take to finish. You may Focus To Do Listhave to do this 2-3 times a day.
  • Schedule the time by project into your Outlook or calendar program.
  • Clear everything else off your desk except for your task at hand - this is immensely helpful for peeling back the clutter, allowing your Focal Point Clarity to take shape.
  • Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses - when you peel back the layers of the job in front of you, zero in on what makes you brilliant at doing what you do. Let that lead you. It brings some joy into the moment and before you know it, it's complete.
  • Keep a running list - when something pops into your head put it on a pop-up list; to be prioritized later.
  • Handle email/mail only once - shuffling it around makes your lose your focus. Add it to your calendar if you need to and let people know you'll be responding to email twice a day. That will help you stick to the schedule without being concerned about "ignoring" someone's email.
  • Set boundaries - set your own rules for interruption - hold your calls for a time, close your door, let people know when you're available.
  • Walk away - what does this have to do with focus? Taking a break allows your conscious mind to breathe while your subconscious mind continues to work. As Napoleon Hill said, "The subconscious mind works day and night."

And, some other good tips to help you focus in general:

  • 3 squares & 8 hours - get a good 7-8 hours of sleep followed by 3 meals filled with healthy brain food - proteins, anti-oxidants, grains, vegetables - during the day, particularly breakfast which revs your focus engine.
  • Exercise - a steady flow of oxygen in the brain helps us focus, so get moving on a regular basis.
  • Take vitamins - B Complex, A, C and E vitamins help keep the brain sharp.

The reason I picked up my well-worn copies of these books is because I can sometimes fall victim to the fast moving train of ideas, obligations and deadlines that flow by all day long! In fact, I like the train analogy because it describes how my brain starts my day.

I'm standing on the train platform, sipping my first cup of java, gazing at the myriad of trains leaving the station for that day, with my mind's voice yelling out the various ports of call, "All aboard! Platform 1 leaving for Writer's Paradise; platform 2 leaving for Client Project Cove; platform 3 leaving for Fabulous Brand New Idea Island; platform 4 leaving for Hugh Ja... you get the idea.

Then, I look down at the note next to my computer which says FOCAL POINT CLARITY, and I look at my PRIORITIZED to-do list that I made before I left work the night before. I board the selected train and begin my day's journey.

As a primarily right-brainer, I've learned that I must put Focus on the top on my daily to-do list, every day, day after day. After day.

 

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Cindy Yantis is the Thought Changer Blog creator & curator. She is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. For more info: CindyYantis.com

 

 


The Impact of Being a Precedent-Setter

"You've been given a great gift, George. The chance to see what the world would be like without you." ~ Clarence in "It's a Wonderful Life"

What a great line from an iconic movie.  I saw the Frank Capra film on the big screen for the first time this year at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.  It was such Wonderful lifea treat seeing it as a feature film with 300 other rapt moviegoers, popcorn and all.  The comment we made as we left the historic theatre was "they don't make movies like that anymore." 

Then, last night a friend took me to see "West Side Story" at the Pantages Theatre.  It's truly the perfect evening of musical theatre, the brilliant re-telling of Romeo & Juliet set to music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. West-side-story

After seeing both of these treasures that have stood the test of time and whose stories still hold up today, it got me thinking about how when they were both made they were original and fresh, truly the exemplars in their arenas, setting a new ideal.  Even though "West Side Story" was an update on Shakespeare's tale, the way it was told made WWS, itself, precedent-setting.  It was done so well that any attempt to re-tell or update its tragic love story would be futile.  The theme behind "It's a Wonderful LIfe" set a precedent that many storytellers have tried to emulate, but none so well as in the black & white original.

It got me thinking about how, in this copycat information-junky society, it's important to remind ourselves that we all are true originals, to set precedents of our own, to be remembered for being unique and for contributing value to the world and to the lives of others, to build a legacy that is ours and ours alone.

  • Be yourself, instead of trying to be something or someone else.  Imagine how much more work it takes to keep up the appearances of being someone else inauthentically, rather than in being yourself authentically.
  • Chart a fresh course.  Expand your mind and your ideas by trying new things and learning new subjects. Take a class, read an author you're unfamiliar with, skydive, belly dance, snowboard, climb a mountain, camp by the ocean, walk a country mile, buy an espresso machine, learn an obscure foreign language, meditate, sing in public, tour a museum, eat something you've never eaten before, do whatever "charting a fresh course" means to you.
  • Make note of original ideas.  By keeping a regular journal or notebook you can keep track of small seeds that are divinely or organically planted in your mind.  Then, go back and expound on them. 
  • Pay attention to sparks.  My best ideas have come from paying attention to odd images, interesting words or phrases I read or hear, or a question or need I need answered.  I grab the spark, storing it to chew on later.  Think about Post Its, or paper clips, or Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, or "Gone with the Wind."  The spark for the idea came from a need, a twinkling of a thought or a slice-of-life experience.  Pay attention to the sparks.

Establish your own standard to be followed by yourself and others.  Examine the areas of your life and career where you are the example, where others follow your lead.  Where do you set a precedent?  No matter how small it may seem, notice where you are original and unique.  Take some time this weekend before the new year begins and honor your originality.  Many times out of those moments of self-reflection and reverence come more sparks.

Pay attention to the sparks!

Sparks 


11 Powerful Re's to Reignite Your Career

Dinner guests were arriving when the electric igniter went out on my oven.  And, then a few minutes later I discovered the igniter on my gas grill was also out.  After a momentary panic attack I re-thought the evening, ordered in and we got a laugh out of it.

But, being aware of metaphor and the subtle epiphanies it can bring, it got me thinking about where in our lives the igniters go out from time to time.  For both the grill and the oven it was an easy fix to re-ignite the mechanism.  What about re-igniting our lives and careers?  It’s a powerful act and allows you to live your life rather than your life living you.
  Lightbulb idea
Taking it a step further, it got me thinking about the impact other Re’s can have on us and all we do.   Think about your own life and career for a moment.  You have a dream, or a plan, or a specific project you’re trying to complete, or a bigger goal with a deadline, or an overall vision.  Perhaps you’re stuck or not feeling inspired; or what you’ve been doing isn’t working anymore; or you really feel like you want to make a change but have no idea what it is or how to go about it.

The power of the Re is that it places new energy in a new way toward what you’re looking at or trying to accomplish.   If you allow the Re to do it’s thing and not fight the process, the results can be staggering.

There are a lot great Re words, but here are 10 powerful ones to get you started, or re-started:
  • Reinvent your career by getting back to the foundation, what do you love and why do you do what you.
  • Reinvest your time in a new and charitable way.
  • Reclaim your dreams, keeping them alive by articulating them on a regular basis.
  • Rejuvenate your attitude, turning can’t into can and don’t into do.
  • Refocus your energy by pausing, taking a deep breath and changing your position.
  • Readjust your thinking, allowing yourself to come at a project from a fresh angle.
  • Retool your personal brand, your resume, your leadership style.  A fresh approach can bring fresh results.
  • Recharge your physical battery; take walks midday or change up your commute on the way to work.
  • Reignite your vision, like gently blowing on cooling embers.   It’s in there, gently wake it up and bring it to life by pursuing it in thought and action, a little every day,
  • Redesign your plan; remove what’s not working and try something else.
  • And, Refuse to quit on yourselfEveryday, get up and Redo something else.

In the way our skin renews itself every 24 hours, embracing the Re allows us to do the same thing in our lives and careers.  And, the good news is you can do and re-do it again and again.

It’s truly the cycle of life.  Or, in this case, the recycle of life.


7 Ways to Show Up for Yourself Everyday

You show up

"I belong to the clean plate club." This is what a friend said recently as we were dining at a scrumptious eatery. He ate every last bite.

I said, "I belong to the full plate club." Which had nothing to do with the food. I was, of course, referring to how full my life plate is - it seems - all the time.

What's interesting as that my mind keeps telling me how full my plate is so that constantly becomes true. Sometimes when our life plates are very full with projects, deadlines, obligations and expectations, our ego mind plays tricks on us, telling us that we're going to fall short or we're not good enough. And, it can particularly happen when you’re asking yourself to stretch.

In other words, when you’re asking your brain to operate on all cylinders, the chatter to stop yourself can get really loud. Sometimes so loud that we stop the forward motion. Standing still is easier.

For me, I was looking for a way to be a bit easier on myself. Working hard every day can be exhausting and when you're building toward something important it can feel like it takes forever to get there. And, frankly sometimes that darn full plate can be so overwhelming it causes inertia. 

Mel Brooks said, “If you're alive you've got to flap your arms and legs, you've got to jump around a lot, for life is the very opposite of death, and therefore you must at very least think noisy and colorfully, or you're not alive.”

This got me thinking about how the most important way to address the full plate is just to show up. To show up, every day. Set aside the ego thoughts about how full it is. 

Showing up means truly being alive, saying yes to yourself.

In order to understand what that means it can be helpful to explore the opposite of this, saying no to yourself. What does that feel like? Saying no to yourself is what brings the icky feeling of the constantly full plate in the first place. Saying no is the inertia, a numbing out in order to avoid disappointment and feeling like a failure. At times like this your ego brain takes over, numbing you out with activities that stop the yes. The numbing is removing your mind from the present moment, from being fully alive in your body, and from the circumstance you want to be focusing on. Numbing activities can include surfing any and all of yoru devices, over sleeping, eating when you’re not hungry, drinking, or burying yourself in frivolous activities.They can be addictive, so acknowledgement is the first step. I can become addicted to jigsaw puzzle and word game apps! They're a time suck and they numb. you. out. 

So, here are some ideas to help you show up for yourself every day:

  • Awareness – be aware when you start to venture into a numbing activity, or if you hear yourself regularly quoting Scarlett O’Hara, “Tomorrow is another day,” in other words putting off today what you can do tomorrow.
  • Fully engage by anchoring yourself in the room – fully recognize the objects around you, feel your body in your chair, feel the texture of your clothing, notice the tapping of your fingers on the computer keys, the push of the pen against your middle knuckle, the grain of the wood on the desk in front of you. Being present can pull you away from being numb and plop you back into your important work.
  • Use your breathing – connect to your breath by pausing to take ten deep breaths. If you can, go outside. Breathing in nature can clear your mind in a good way.
  • Get physical – regular exercise such as yoga increases the dopamine in your brain, which increases your capacity to absorb and assimilate information.
  • Promise yourself to strive for excellence in all things, even the most mundane tasks.  Treat each task as importantly as the one before and after.  If you’re working in a job that doesn’t necessarily feed you except to simply put food on the table, show up in every way at that job.
  • Ask yourself at the beginning of each day, “How can I be excellent today?”  “How can I show up?”

And, at the end of the day, “What brought me joy today?”  Strive to find the answer in the simple things and every day tasks. 

Above all else, say Yes and show up for yourself.

 


5 Ways to Lead by Example - Look to Mother

By the age of 20 you likely have developed the core values by which you'll live your life.   Today is my niece Dana’s 20th birthday and she has become a lovely, centered, self-motivated and compassionate young woman.  She’s already a leader.   

And, this Mother’s Day week in particular it got me thinking about what an incredible mother my sister has been, instilling that admirable sense of self and value in both of her children.  And, how she became that mother is in large part because of the amazing example set by our mother.   

It also got me thinking about whether we realize it or not, we are setting examples every day, in our businesses, careers and lives.   But, since many times the focus is squarely on Moms_leading what’s in front of us on that given day, we don’t realize the potential impact and influence, large and small, we may have on the people in our lives.   

Think back to your own school life, or when you were beginning your career.  Those pivotal people will come to mind who’ve made a difference for you – the small gesture, the encouraging comment, the sense of knowing that the person had your back or your best interest at heart in that given moment. 

You have done this in other’s lives already, you just may not be aware of when or how.   It could be a fleeting encounter or a day-to-day relationship, you have made an impact.

There will, of course, be some negative comments or gestures that have stayed with you as well, and you certainly remember those people, but in a very different light.  The teacher who discouraged you (sadly it happens), the boss or co-worker who belittled you, the parent who disregarded you.  It's interesting how quickly they come to mind.

But, the good news is you have a choice, from here on out, to create the influence and make the impact you want to make.  As leaders in your own lives, what kind of example are you setting?  

Here are some things to keep in mind:  

  • Be compassionate – lead every conversation with your heart
  • Pay attention – be truly present each day, in each situation with each person
  • Listen with all of you – make full eye contact and keep your focus on, not only the words being spoken, but also the body language of the person.  Opening up your own body to listening put others at ease to speak freely.
  • Give praise – nothing encourages like genuine praise.  Remember to give credit loudly and honestly.
  • Be real – give honest and loving opinions and advice that will truly help rather than just make you look good.  Sometimes it won’t be the most popular opinion, but it may very well be a game and mindset changer in that person’s life.
So, in honor of that sense of mother in all of us, take the time to lead by example and make a difference in someone’s life. 

Two Great Ways to Dissolve Fear

By Cindy Yantis

“The key to change…is to let go of fear.” ~ Rosanne Cash  

I posted this quote on my social media networks this week and this question came back: How do you  do that?  

It got mScared monkeye thinking about fear and how just the very mention of the word can stop us in our  tracks sometimes.  FEAR.  It can stop us from making decisions, or from taking advantage of an opportunity that puts us out of our comfort zone.  The very notion of fear can cause inertia which is not helping you, or anyone for that matter.  

It’s helpful to re-define scary terms, to think about them in a new way.  Some people define fear as False Evidence Appearing Real, in other words fear isn’t real.  And, there is truth to that sentiment.  But, when you’re in the middle of a fear it feels pretty darn real. 

Here are two new ways to define and dissolve the notion of fear:  

1. Fear as expectation – Think of a fear as a set of expectations.  In a fearful moment, ask yourself: What are my expectations if I do this?  Then, make a list of all of those expectations. 

  • Do you expect that you’re not good enough? 
  • Do expect that you won’t be liked? 
  • Do you expect that you’re going to lose your job if you step out like that? 
  • Do you expect that people won’t think you’re smart if you say that? 

Write them down.  When you see them in black and white, sometimes simply acknowledging them helps to bring a light to the non-reality of your expectations.   

So what do you do?  Now, you have a chance to re-write your expectations surrounding the event or decision, making them positive rather than negative.  Literally create a set of expectations that allow you to move forward: 

  • I expect that they will recognize me as the expert that I am on this subject, that's why I'm there.   
  • I expect that if it’s meant to be I will make a connection at this meeting. 
  • I expect that I will be hired for this job if I’m right for this job, and I decide I’m right for this job.
  • I expect that they want me to nail this interview/presentation/audition. It will make their job easier. 

Then, what happens is fear is replaced by a stronger sense of courage and ownership of self.  

2. Fear as resistance - What is resistance exactly?  The definition of the word is conflict, struggle and opposition.  It shows up just at the time when you’re about to learn something, or you’re about to make a change or advancement to your current situation.  Personal resistances are created in the mind.  They’re not real.  They’re not in the present.  Resistance takes place in the subconscious mind and it invades or stops the new thought or idea in the forefront of your mind. 

How does it show up for you?  Resistance can show up in little behaviors or obstacles that our minds create in order to avoid and mask fears.  Resistance can be a pesky little devil!  And, we can get really creative in our resistances.  Maybe you just haven’t had time to get to it; or perhaps you get tired or create a headache which makes you put it off again.  The mind chatter is another form of resistance.  Maybe you tell yourself that things really aren’t that bad where you are.  Or this is a silly exercise, what does it really have to do with getting a job or setting a goal?  

To get through a fear or resistance, let’s take a look at the notion of polar opposites and how what you want many times is directly on the other side of what’s stopping you.  For centuries the Chinese had taught that on the other side, or opposite side, of chaos is order.  It’s the same principle here when it comes to resistance.  Freedom_girl

The antonym, or opposite, of resistance is SURRENDER.  I don’t mean give up or give in or throw in the towel.  By surrender I mean to trust what you can’t see in front of you yet.  Trust that the answers will come to you.  Trust in the quieting of the mind.  And,  surrender to compassion for your fears and mind chatter.  Tell your fear that it’s okay. You acknowledge it, but you’re moving forward anyway.  Surrender to just doing your best, your best in that moment.  

So, give yourself permission to surrender & change your expectations.  If you do this on a consistent basis you’ll see the fears begin to dissolve.  We get fixed into a certain way of thinking.   

Yes, it’s uncomfortable.  So, I invite you to live in the uncomfortable.  Then, it’s about becoming comfortable being uncomfortable. 


Cindy Yantis is the Thought Changer Blog owner & curator.  She is a writer living in Los Angeles.  For more info: CindyYantis.com

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Grace Under Fire - Tools to Lead Through Trying Times

We are continually faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems.” ~ John Gardner, Author

2 cats jumping

During trying times sometimes troublesome situations at work do seem mountainous and insurmountable: shrinking budgets, staffs, client lists, time, etc.  As a leader you're likely facing the daily charge of producing more with less.

 

A key leadership attribute is demonstrating “Grace Under Fire”.  And, here are a few tools for helping you get there.

  • Utilize Filter Statements – A filter statement, like “it is what it is”, “this too shall pass”, or “it's a moment in time", filters the largess of the situation and immediately accomplishes two things.   
  1. It brings people into the present moment narrowing the lens through which you look at the circumstance, so they don’t compound it into something it isn’t  
  2. It centers the conversation, putting a calming prospective to things and allows you to get back to focusing on the problem rather than any ancillary side effects that you have no control over 
  • Control Emotions – This is where the notion of Emotional Intelligence comes into play.  Author Daniel Goleman wrote in his still relevant book, "Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ.It’s a controversial subject debated by scientists and academics alike, but thematically EI creates strong leaders.  So, take time to recognize and manage your own emotions.  
  1. Understand your own emotions through self-awareness – slow down and check in with yourself before you react.  Learn your own touchstones.  
  2. Study the emotions of those around you – read the room and those in itManage the way you handle emotions – it enables you to handle conflict and to be the most effective with peers and subordinates.
Margaret Thatcher said, “To wear your heart on your sleeve isn't a very good plan; you should wear it inside, where it functions best.”  

In other words, utilize your emotions in a positive way.

Practicing grace in a grizzly situation is a brilliant way to control it and will position you as a go-to person when it comes to problem solving and dealing with conflict.  Not a bad position to be in!


Do Rules Keep You Back or Move Your Forward?

“Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking.” ~ Leo Tolstoy  

Today I saw the riveting film, “THE LAST STATION” chronicling the final chapter of Leo Tolstoy’s storied life.  Simply put, what I find so fascinating about Count Tolstoy is that he lived his life by a very strict set of rules, yet later in his life he was considered a prophet by those who considered themselves freethinkers.  As a celebrated novelist and essayist known for his theories on pacifism, he eventually walked away from his previous set of rules and developed a devout group of followers of his theories on freethinking, thus creating a Rules whole new set of rules.   

It got me thinking about rules.  Do they help us or hinder us from expanding and being our best selves?   It depends on how you define rules.  I think of rules as being confining.  However, I do live my life by a set of core values and philosophies.  And, I run by business  with a plan, a blueprint and a set of guidelines.  Guidelines are more fluid than rules and leave space for creativity and movement.  Guidelines give direction and focus; rules are narrow-minded and militant.   

So, what to do?  

  • Throw out your rule book and replace it with a list of values.  
  • Make some of your own guidelines.  Give yourself permission to color outside the lines.   
  • Create a checklist by which to guide decisions – it keeps you focused on what’s important to you: 
  1. WHAT is the specific action?
  2. WHO is it for, WHO will be impacted, and WHO can help me?
  3. WHEN and how long is the time frame or WHEN is the deadline?
  4. WHERE does this fit into my short and long-range career goals?
  5. WHY do I want to do this?
  6. HOW will this raise the value of my brand?
  7. IF I do or don’t move forward with this action what are the risks involved?  


Trust in your own mind and in your ability to set your own rules, guidelines and values.  It’s up to you to set them in motion.


Do You Matter? 5 Ways to Have a More Meaningful Career

By Cindy Yantis

Abraham Lincoln said, “In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.”  I take that to mean that how you contribute and make a difference each day puts the “life in your years.” 

It got me thinking.  To have a meaningful career means being driven by a vision or purposeful goal that is connected to making an impact, making a difference.  And when you come from the truth of your vision and from a place of positive influence, people and opportunities will be  drawn to you.

Purpose stones Many times when we think about career, it’s about setting goals in terms of what we want to achieve, how we can climb the ladder, make more money.  That’s all good. We all need goals.  But to have true sense of accomplishment and purpose, if your overall vision is tied into how you make a difference or how you can make an impact, then it really does give your life and career a lot more meaning.   And, here’s the surprising bonus: this type of vision mindset helps you to think about ways in moving forward with opportunities that maybe you wouldn't have thought of before. Then, the difference or impact that you make becomes part of your legacy.  

Your vision will to continue to be refined as your career progresses, as you become clearer about what’s truly important to you. 

Here are some questions to ask yourself so you get clear on your career and life vision.  And, free yourself up here. Your vision is fluid.  Let yourself really dream with this exercise.  Let go of barriers including time and environment and money to think about where you want to go in your life.

  • What kind of impact do you want to make and on whom?
  • What kind of difference do you want to make and with whom?
  • Your legacy IS the impact that you leave behind. What do you want to be remembered for?
  • Start small – you can incorporate small changes toward your vision before you take any giant leaps or make any big changes to your current circumstances.  
  • Describe what your dream job looks like as you’re making the kind of difference you want to make.  And really get detailed here.  Do some ‘creative visualization’ where you put yourself in the space of doing what you want to do. What does your typical day look like? Include the environment, include the sights and smells and sounds, what your responsibilities are, your time, the impact that you're making, the kind of money you're making, where it is in the world, who you have working for you or with you or partnering with you.  Try to paint a typical day.  Take one day because it makes it more specific, take one day and paint what that looks like.   And then what will your life look like if you have the career of your dreams? What kind of relationships will you have? Where would you live in terms of what kind of home you would live in?  How would you spend your spare time?  

Simply put, when determining your career vision, ask yourself what kind of impact you want to make and on whom.  Clearly stated, your vision becomes real.

 

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Cindy Yantis is the Thought Changer Blog creator & curator. She is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. For more info: CindyYantis.com

 


“I saw it and it happened” – Tips for an Olympic Mindset

Team USA has been having a big week at the Winter Olympics with several visits to the medal podium.  My 16-year-old nephew is visiting this week so we’ve been couch fans together.  When I spend time with him I can’t help but look for little teaching moments.  What can I say? It’s what I do.   

There’s much to be learned from these incredible Olympic athletes, the greatest being their champion mindset.  It got me thinking about how we can apply the elements of this mindset to the betterment of our careers and lives.  

Snowboarder Shaun White set the field this week in the Men’s Halfpipe event with a first place Shawn_white score in the first run.  He didn’t even have to do his second drop; he already had the Gold.  But he did it anyway and he raised the bar just that much higher in a sport that he helped put on the map.  When asked about his much talked about preparation in isolation, he said rather nonchalantly, “I saw it and it happened.”   

But, here’s the thing.  There’s nothing nonchalant about the mindset behind his comment.  

Lindsay Vonn said, after she won the Gold in the Women’s Downhill, “I saw the score I had to beat.”  She said that once she knew what she had to do, the focus took away the nerves.  She knew what she had to do.   

How to get the Olympic mindset?  

  • Active Visualization – paint the picture in your mind; see yourself as your accomplishing your goal and living your success.  
  • Know What You Have to Do – familiarize yourself with everything that stands between you and your goal; then devise a plan to get there.  Know the “score you have to beat” to win.  
  • Clear Out the Chatter & Clutter – by having a plan you’ll have a guideline on which to focus.  Pare things down, getting rid of anything within your sightline that has nothing to do with the goal you’re focused on.   
  • Commit Yourself – true commitment to your craft, your work, is essential on a daily basis.  This means immersing yourself in your industry, increasing your knowledge as well as your network so that you’re living and breathing your goal.   

And, to get truly inspired into the champion mindset, tune in to the Olympics! It works every time.