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I Talk to Myself and So Do You!

Updated on March 8, 2011

Productivity Enhancement

Yes, I talk to myself and you do too. In fact, we all literally do it non-stop and the influence it has on our lives is amazing. It can be the difference between winning and loosing. If you can learn to control your inner voice - it truly can be decisive and set you apart from your competition.

It was a warm summer day far into the California Mountains above Yosemite National Park. We were a two day climb into the high country. At 11,000 feet above sea level if something goes wrong you will find out who your friends are in a hurry. Each one of us had strapped on about 50 pounds of gear as we were making our way back to Yosemite Valley. Coming down from the High Sierras, my buddy Peter was hiking directly behind me when he saw it go. My right ankle announced its presence by turning completely over in my boot. Have you ever severely sprained an ankle? Well, if you have, you know the routine. Pain hits you like a wave then for about half an hour it is really no big deal. After that, however, the swelling is likely to make it near impossible to walk much less hike up and down steep grades. RICE … rest, ice and elevation is the usual method immediately employed for this type of injury. In the wilderness, you do not have that as an option. There were only two choices. I either had to quiet my mind, wrap the foot as tight as possible and continue back down the mountainside or send for help in which case life flight would take me out at my own expense. My inner voice was made to be real quiet as I completed the journey down from the High Sierras.

127 hours is a hit. It is a movie telling the rather graphic story of Aron Ralston and his fight to survive. If you don’t recall his name, you surely remember the plight of the then 27-year-old who made national news by amputating his own arm while hiking in Southeastern Utah in April of 2003. He found himself pinned under a boulder for five days and faced either choosing this grizzly option or almost certain death. He took an action that is unthinkable for most of us but did so and survived.

Each example represents vastly different situations with obviously poles apart consequences. Both, however, require the individual to assess personal motivation and a commitment to success which cannot be done without self-talk. Simply stated, we all have times in our lives when we must play to win. During these periods, you become reacquainted with the voice in your head. Stress makes this ongoing dialogue within us loud and clear. Unfortunately, many have developed extremely good avoidance behaviors when it comes to working with this self-talk under normal circumstances. Worse yet, others think it corny and deny its existence. These people tend to be the same individuals who call themselves stupid or direct other derogatory remarks inward when something goes wrong. As with many things, you either control that voice or it will have an uncontrollable impact on you.

For thousands of years Zen has preached that to obtain enlightenment the individual should strive to stay in the moment and that the past is gone while the future does not yet exist. Mediation was often referred to as a means to “quiet the noise of the monkeys” in the brain. Several prominent business philosophers over the past century have taken this concept of thought control to the next level. They believe that you actually become what you think of on a regular basis.

Earl Nightingale made a series of self-help tapes back in the 1950s through which he coined the phrase, “you become what you think about all day long”. His first record named The Strangest Secret became a huge success and sold millions of copies within a very short period of time. He based much of his work on a book authored by Napoleon Hill entitled, Think and Grow Rich. Hill’s classic grew out of an earlier writing assignment funded by the Andrew Carnegie in 1908. Carnegie was the Bill Gates of his time. The industrialist, who was rich almost beyond comprehension, believed that success was a process which could be outlined into a simple formula for anyone to understand and achieve. Impressed with Hill, Carnegie engaged his services to interview over 500 of the most successful men and women in the world. The ultimate aim was to discover and publish a formula for success. In the process, Hill’s work became one of the best selling books of all time and the inner voice was acknowledged as a critical tool for achievement. All of these accomplished men knew The Strangest Secret to be true

Successful entrepreneurs and salespeople not only understand self-talk but embrace it. They frequently find themselves in high stress situations, similar to our wilderness examples, and often in a zero-sum competition when failure would have dire consequences. Over the last few years, economic factors and layoffs have forced many other individuals out of salaried corporate positions and into the risk of self-employment for the first time in their careers. Forbes Magazine recently coined the term “accidental entrepreneurs” in reference to these individuals. Anyone in a role that requires sales production must understand the importance of positive self-dialogue although it is especially vital for these new business owners. It is a learned skill but absent a mentor, you can rest assured not a soul will teach you how to accomplish this on a daily basis. You will need to find it for yourself. Your success starts between your own ears.

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