S M A L L - B U S I N E S S - P R O B L E M - N U M B E R - 3


How can you remain positive about yourself and your business venture? How can one avoid being discouraged?

It is understood at the outset of this material that one must be realistic regarding ones own abilities and the realism of your business venture being sound and practical. These factors must be established before we can expect the power of positive thinking to play a role in our success. It is absolute rubbish when we see these info-commercials on the TV, that make ludicrous claims about massive earnings from business ventures that are unrealistic and are not even practical.

After we have established that our business venture is realistic and practical and we are satisfied that we have the right personality to handle the task of becoming an entrepreneur we can now venture into the area of how we can keep positive and avoid being discouraged.

Your Hidden Powers

Scientists say that human beings can be looked at from three different points of view.

  • First, you can see him as he is from a physical point of view. You can say that he is 42 years old, 1.8m tall, and that he is fair-haired, blue-eyed, and athletically built.

  • Second, there exists his own image of himself. He may regard himself as attractive, intelligent, and relaxed.

  • Third, there is other people's opinion of him. They may regard him as conceited, un- trustworthy and lazy.

    These are three different angles regarding every person. In terms of the person himself, the most important one is the second: how he sees himself. This, more than anything else, decides whether he will succeed in reaching his goals, or not.

    Every one of us carries a mental picture of ourselves, and it determines whatever we say or do. Every one of our actions, from writing to the press to giving 10c to a beggar, is consistent with our self-image. One may say that every action flows from our self-image. The same is true of our emotions. We never consciously express an emotion unless it accords with our self-image.

    What this means is that you will always act like the sort of person you really think you are. The self-image is the foundation stone of your personality. All other actions and emotions derive from it. In turn, those very actions and emotions verify and strengthen our self-image.

    If you think that you are a failure, you will fail even if you try hard to succeed, even if you get some good breaks. If you think you are unlucky, you will be plagued by bad luck

    One of the authors of this course knew an attractive young girl. She somehow came to believe that she was unattractive. She developed a defensive manner, getting annoyed by compliments. This turned her into a somewhat ridiculous person, and drove all her admirers away. Her self-image had confirmed itself.

    We all know plain-looking people who are immensely attractive. The reason is their self-image: they do not think that their lack of physical beauty repels other people. So it does not.

    There are many more illustrations of how a positive self-image produces success, and a negative self-image, failure.

    Think of the salesman who believes that he cannot sell because people don't like his face. He will look sad and nervous whenever he tries to sell. His lack of faith in himself will work itself across to the buyer. He will fail at selling. Think of the person who speaks clearly but believes that he cannot write, his writing will be bad.

    Pause for a moment. Think of your friends and colleagues. Do you know any person who has a poor self-image, for no real reason? Does he do as well as he could?

    You can change your self-image

    If you have a negative self-image, you are likely to fail, no matter how hard you try.

    Fortunately our self-image is not a permanent thing. A good driver may have three car accidents in a row, through his own carelessness. He may then tell himself that he is really a bad driver. He has changed his self-image.

    We can also change our self-image from a negative to a positive one. It is a simple task, although most people find it very, very hard.

    The basis of it is to start thinking positive thoughts about yourself. Forget your past failures, and dwell on your successes. Think only positive thoughts about yourself. Build up a positive mental picture of yourself, as you would like to be. Then act as it that picture were true.

    This works, as is well shown by modern approach to dramatic acting. This approach is called the "Stanislavski method acting." If an actor who uses this method plays a cowboy, he tries to think that he is a cowboy. He puts himself completely into a cowboy's shoes. He then tries to project this as a living reality to the audience.

    And it works. Stanislavski method actors try to feel angry when they have to appear angry. And they do in fact get angry. One actor recently wrote that in real life he got a headache whenever he became angry. In a certain production, he had to show anger. Night after night he went from the stage with a headache, and had to give up the role.

    The Stanislavski actor changes his self-image into that of the person he depicts. You do not have to be an actor to do the same. Just imagine yourself as being the person you would like to be. In this way you will build a strong and positive self-image

    Secrets of the mind

    Around the turn of the 20th century, about 100 years ago, psychologists began probing into the secrets of motivation.

    They wanted to find out why people act in the way they do. They tried to learn why some people are highly motivated {those who like to set themselves goals, and work hard to reach them}, while others are not. The search for answers still goes on today.

    But psychologists have already discovered many wonderful things.

    One of their great discoveries was that your mind consists of two parts. There is your conscious, which deals with the world around you. Your thoughts, words, and decisions are directly controlled by your conscious. And then there is your subconscious, which is like a large storeroom in which all our experiences and past feelings are stacked away. The subconscious gets all its facts through the conscious.

    You need not understand the whole theory of your conscious and subconscious. In fact, many mysteries have not yet been solved. We know many things that the mind can do. We know how to use the mind better. But we know little about how the mind itself works. But this is no reason why we cannot make use of facts already known.

    One of the useful facts we do know is this: the subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between real and imagined experiences. If you picture yourself in a specific situation by means of a strong mental picture, imagined picture. It will take it for the real thing.

    This has been proved in many experiments. A British psychologist asked a group of people to throw darts. He recorded their scores. He then split the group into two: one section were told to practice dart throwing for half an hour each day, the other section to sit in front of a dart board and imagine they were throwing darts at it. After some days, the second section had improved their aim as much as the first.

    Golfers use this fact as well. If you watch a tournament you will see how the professional rehearses his shot, imagines what is going to happen, before he actually hits the ball.

    In the 1920's a Frenchman named Emile Coue caused a worldwide stir. He published a book in which he claimed that people can become more successful…simply by telling themselves that they are becoming more successful. Coue said that you should flash positive mental pictures to your subconscious mind every day. Standing before your mirror every morning, you should tell yourself, "Every day, and in every way, I am becoming better and better." Your subconscious will accept these statements as true ones and you will become a better and more successful person.

    This technique is called autosuggestion, we suggest positive things to ourselves and in this way make our self-image stronger and better. This, in turn, leads to more positive actions. Coue's system became popular overnight. It made him a famous and rich man. Thousands of people tried it, and afterwards swore by it.

    To understand more about this, we will now look at an important modern discovery.

    Your Success Mechanism

    The modern science of cybernetics has lead psychologists to an important conclusion, that your subconscious mind has a so-called goal striving servo-machine. It consists of the brain and nervous system, and is directed by the conscious mind.

    Let us see what this means.

    The space age has seen the development of the electronic servomechanism. Basically this is a computer. Into it the scientist feeds information about a goal to be reached. The computer is programmed to know how to reach that goal. The servomechanism is then attached, for example, to a rocket that has to ascend up 500km, discard its first two stages, and then go into orbit round the earth. Before firing the rocket, the servomechanism is switched on. From then on this mechanism directs the rocket to its targets. It automatically corrects all errors of direction and functioning, and steers the rocket to its destination.

    Your subconscious mind possesses a servomechanism. But yours is more wonderful and more advanced than any electronic one yet deigned by man. Scientists have spent much time finding out how you can best use your goal-striving servomechanism. The facts they have discovered have led to a new science. This is called "psycho-cybernetics." Let us see what we can learn from it. (See Footnote No.1)

    Like an electronic servomechanism, your subconscious servomechanism needs a clear goal toward which to work. Its goals, or objectives, come to it in the form of mental pictures. Our main goal-image is our self-image. This tells the servomechanism what we want to reach, and what the limits of our action are.

    And, like an electronic servomechanism, your inner mechanism is impersonal. It does not decide for itself. Like any machine, its works automatically on the goals set for it.

    If you feed it success goals, it will function as a success mechanism. It will do those things that bring you success. If you feed it negative goals, it will work towards failure. Like clockwork it will zoom in to the targets you set it. It does not matter whether the targets are positive or negative, whether they deal with success or with failure.

    Our beliefs about ourselves determine the mental pictures, of which our self-image consists. Our self-image, in turn sets the targets for our servomechanism in the subconscious.

    If you want to get more out of life, you must learn to use your servomechanism well. Turn its goals into success goals, not failure goals. Develop new ways of thinking in order to build a strong and positive self-image. Let us now see how to do so.

    Build a strong self-image

    You have seen that your self-image consists of mental pictures. Most, if not all of these derive from your past. They are pictures, which grow from judgments you placed on your experiences in life.

    If most of them are healthy and positive, you will be a successful person. On the other hand, if your self-image is negative, you will tend to be "unlucky". You will fail at many things. Fortunately, we know today that the self-image can be made stronger, and we know how to do it. As a great modern English writer, Mr. Aldous Huxley, has said. "There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving; and that is your own self." Today, science tells you that you can improve yourself by making your self-image stronger.

    Many of our clients have suggested that keeping fit and healthy definitely helps in your mental outlook, maybe you agree. If so, then why not try a FREE test to see if your are as healthy as you think you are.

    What to do

    Your self-image has been built up over many years. Don't expect to change it overnight. Work at the exercises below. Work at it regularly.

    And your reward will come. Even after the first session, today or tomorrow, you will feel an increase in your confidence. Not very much, of course, but still it all is there. And in the weeks to come, you will find, day after day, that your new self-image is taking root. The exercise is simple.

    For the next 20 days, we want you to set aside 20 minutes each day. Sit or lie down where it is quiet. Relax, and make yourself comfortable. Then close you eyes and think about yourself.

    Picture yourself in the way you would really like to be. Make definite pictures, see yourself in a concrete situation, at a given time, speaking to a definite person, or doing something concrete.

    Remember that you want to wipe out negative parts of your self-image. You want to wipe out negative pictures, and put in positive ones.

    Therefore focus on a situation where you have a negative feeling. But with this difference, picture yourself handling the situation, as you would really like to handle it. See how successfully you are dealing with it. See this picture again and again, as if you are looking at a cinema picture being played over and over.

    Some examples should help you to understand what to do.


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    A few illustrations

    Suppose you are a young woman, 20, single, and you want a better job. The interview counts for a lot, and here you have a negative feeling; interviews always make you nervous.

    Focus on that situation. Have all interviews always made you nervous? No, there was that time once, you were 18, and applied for a holiday job in a hotel. You were not nervous that day.

    Picture that day. What clothes you were wearing, remember how a friend gave you a lift to the office. The friendly secretary who apologized that her boss was late. While you waited you thought how nice it would be to work in an hotel by the sea, earning holiday money, the fat bald man, what he said, what you said. His desk, the view from the window, the clear blue sky and sunshine. Relive that interview, because you were not nervous that day. You handled it the way you wanted to.

    Perhaps you're a man in your fifties, who becomes nervous when you have to speak, even to a few people. Has this always been like that?

    What about that day, 30 years ago, when you gave a pep talk to your rugby mates? And seven years ago when you told your colleagues over lunch why fishing is a good sport? Picture moments of strength, detail by detail, and wipe out the negative and weak moments.

    Perhaps you are thirty, and you feel self-conscious about dancing. Remember that night the blonde told you she felt safe with you - it was on the dance floor?

    You are a woman of 60, and self-conscious about wearing a bathing costume on the beach? Remember last year when the neighbor's son told you that you were such fun to be with on a picnic….remember the pleasant atmosphere, and how no one took any notice of your figure?

    The above examples should help you understand that you should see yourself over and over, doing well in a difficult situation.

    See to it that you always create clear, vivid pictures. If you want to overcome your nervousness when speaking in public, visualize yourself. See yourself in you town or club hall, in a black suit. See your notes on the lectern, the glass of water on the table, and the 200 people in the hall. See them listen and applaud you. Feel your relaxed air, the absence in you of nervousness.

    Decide what your negative feelings are. You think you are bad at mathematics; you get sleepy reading a book; you can't get up on time in the mornings; you always lose things; you feel depressed and lonely at times; you can never succeed on your own; you can't make plans that work; you are clumsy in front of people; you are nervous in heavy traffic; and so on.

    We have all had unpleasant experiences. We all have serious shortcomings. But we need not allow them to give us a negative self-image, so that our servomechanism is primed as a failure mechanism. How you failed yesterday does not matter. Learn what you can from your failure, and concentrate on your successes. If certain experiences have frightened you, see yourself mastering them, and winning out to success in the end.

    Your subconscious works day and night, even while you are asleep. It cannot remain idle. If you do not feed it on positive pictures, it will work on whatever else it can get from your experiences. These will be negative as well as positive.

    Your subconscious is what scientists call a self-maximizing system. This means that it uses the most efficient steps, and follows the fastest route, in the pursuit of your goals. There is a bonus in this for you. As you get used to having your subconscious work for you at full strength, it will often flash messages to you. Suddenly new solutions to old problems will occur to you, solutions worked out by your subconscious. New creative ideas on subjects that concern and interest you will appear, ideas produced in the workshop of your unconscious.

    After a while, you need no longer set aside a special time of day for this. You will have made a habit of motivating yourself by developing a positive outlook automatically: while walking, driving, waiting, or working with your hands.

    We ask you to start today, for 20 minutes each day, the next 20 days, help your servomechanism select success targets. It will work for you, after a few days you will begin to act with more confidence. (See Footnote No.2)

    (We kindly acknowledge that these lecture notes have been adapted from material that came from Stellenbosch University, and is part of the Small Business Management Course at the Cape Town Academy, under the personal supervision of Geoffrey Hebdon, Director of Training)

    (Footnote No.1.) A marvelous publication called "Pycho-Cybernetics" by Dr Maxwell Maltz is available. Check at Amazon.com
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