KATHMANDU: Jack Canfield, in his book The Success Principles, writes that research indicates the average person talks to himself or herself about 50,000 times a day. While most of that self-talk is about themselves, according to the psychological researchers, it is 80 per cent negative. He further writes, ‘We know from research that these thoughts have a powerful effect on us. They affect our attitude, our physiology, and our motivation to act. Our negative thoughts actually control our behaviour.’
Canfield also referred to Daniel G Amen, a psychiatrist, who named the negative thoughts we hear in our head as Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs). Some examples of ANTs given in the book are:
• My employees never listen to me.
• Every time I take a risk, I get slammed.
• My sales prospects will
not be interested in my product.
• He is going to say no.
Dr Amen says your ANTs can ruin experience of life just like real ants during panic. But even Bodhidharma, an Indian monk who travelled to China in 1st century AD, has written in his book The Zen Teaching, ‘Our nature is the mind. And the mind is our nature. Buddha only talks about mind.’
A leader’s task is to envision change, make plans and take decisions for actions. All these take place in the mind first. So, the healthier and more powerful mind you have, the better leader you are. But how do we achieve a healthy and powerful mind? One way could be through positive thinking. However, positivity is always attached to negativity. There can be no positive without the negative. When we say positive thinking, we are in fact reframing negative thoughts to positive. Positive thinking in itself is not absolutely positive.
In fact when our mind is really positive, our mind is free from talks of any kind. Our mind chatters a lot when we have negative thoughts. For example, if we are going to quarrel with someone, our mind is filled with continuous ranting. But if we decide to go to a temple, it is mostly silent except while making some decisions — how to go, what all to take, what time to reach, et cetera. These are necessary thoughts.
As a leader, when our mind is positive or silent, we can have positive visions, realistic plans and powerful actions. It is natural that everyone likes to be with a leader who has a positive mindset. Many people ask me how to develop leadership and communication skills during trainings. They want to learn the skills of speaking and presenting themselves impressively. The key to this lies in our mind. How and what we talk to ourselves is the starting point of being a leader and communicator.
(The author is a leadership trainer and consultant associated with ‘Kabule — The Wise Leader’ and ‘Catalyst for Transformation’. He can be contacted through email@example.com)