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9 Thoughts Successful People Refuse To Believe

9 Thoughts Successful People Refuse To Believe

Beliefs precede thoughts. Thoughts precede actions. Actions determine your journey and your destination. So, it all starts with beliefs. Successful people not only have a different set of beliefs, they also refuse to believe so many ideas that seem to be commonplace.

Here are nine thoughts successful people refuse to believe:

1. They Don’t Think That The Right Timing is Everything

Successful people like the timing to be right, just like everyone else- but they also know that the right timing is not everything. All that the right timing will provide is an edge – the work needs to get done and they don’t shy away from it. They take control of what they CAN do with what they have.

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2. They Don’t Believe Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Successful people know that ‘slow and steady’ rarely wins the race because they know that there are other smart people out there who are ‘smart and fast’ and playing the same game.

The concept of “slow and steady wins the race” was popularized by the famous Tortoise and the Hare story, in which the hare sleeps in the middle of the race, paving the way for the tortoise to win.

The problem with this?

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Flawed logic.

In the real world, if a race between the tortoise and the hare actually happened, there is a little chance that the hare would sleep in the middle of the race.

Successful people pierce through such flawed logic before blindly believing something.

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3. They Don’t Believe It’s a Sign of Weakness to Ask for Help

Successful people know what their strengths are and they also know where they need to receive help. The good part is that they are not afraid to seek out that good help that they need to make something meaningful happen.

4. They Don’t Believe That They Have to Be Right to Be Respected

Successful people have an opinion, but they don’t claim that their opinion is the only opinion that counts. Their self-esteem is high enough that they are the first to admit if they are wrong. In other words, they are “often wrong, never in doubt.” (Yes, that’s the title of a book by Donny Deutsch)

5. They Don’t Believe That Others Have to Reciprocate

Successful people can move the needle for a lot of people. Only a small percentage of them will reciprocate back in some way. The good news is that successful people are aware of this skewed ratio and are at peace with it.

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6. They Don’t Believe That They Can Skip Reciprocation

While successful people don’t expect people to reciprocate, they are very clear and committed in their choice to reciprocate- in terms of things like time, energy, money, mind share or insights- with anyone and everyone who makes a meaningful contribution to their lives.

7. They Don’t Believe in Waiting to Get Lucky

Successful people don’t wait for luck to strike them in order to achieve a breakthrough. They believe in the old saying that “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”.

8. They Don’t Believe That Luck Does Not Exist

Successful people don’t dismiss luck either. When they do get a breakthrough because of a lucky strike, they acknowledge the effect of luck and do not give themselves undue credit for that accomplishment or breakthrough.

9. They Don’t Ever Believe That They Have Made It.

Successful people thrive on taking a meaningful journey. A milestone reached or an accomplishment they are proud of is all good, but, for them, these milestones and accomplishments are part of the journey and nothing more. In their mind, their life is in “permanent beta” (a term I first heard from Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn). This worldview keeps them hungry to learn more.

Featured photo credit: Ladybug by Yadav Thyagaraj via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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