Machen MacDonald: The language of success |

Machen MacDonald: The language of success

Machen MacDonald

We can probably all agree Albert Einstein developed a rather wise and insightful mind. One of my favorite quotes by him is, “What we say to ourselves before we look at something determines what we see.”

The way we talk to ourselves should be light, but not taken lightly. We all, to a degree, have a critical internal voice constantly chiming in. Some call it the inner critic, others refer to it as the gremlin. Other names include the inner committee and the monkey mind.

Regardless of the title, we all have it. If you just told yourself you don’t have it, that’s the voice to which I’m referring.

A few of its favorite words and phrases include: “should,” “not enough,” “not perfect,” “I’m (insert any pejorative statement of not-enoughness or proof of ‘could have done better’).”

The feeling of accomplishment

While cleaning out a closet I came across a picture of one of my boys at the age of three years old. He had made his way to the top railing of our horse fence and was holding on as tight as he could with the biggest grin on his face that shouted “look at me and how happy I am with myself that I climbed to the top.”

I still recall what a main event moment it was for him in his little life at that time. I can actually recall moments in my own young life that were so innocent and filled with the great feeling of accomplishment.

However, somewhere between wondering what to create with Play-Doh and wondering how to save and invest real “dough,” I lost that innocent enthusiasm for a job well done and the ease of feeling accomplished. I know I am not alone.

Over time we tend to contort the rules to make it much harder to win the game of feeling validated for a job well done. The critical voice that has developed over the years is quick to point out how what we did was not enough, or how it could have been done better or faster.

We must relearn the game of self validation and feeling good to feel like we are winning the game of life.

The inner voice

For so many, that internal voice is deeply critical. For others it may not be as harsh. It’s well meaning. Its intention is to protect us from harm and keep us safe from being hurt physically and emotionally.

However, it has not fully developed or matured as we have aged. It formed its view of the world when it was eye level with the knee caps of the adults around it. At that time, it did not have the understanding or experience of life as an adult. It may have thought it did and continues to, however, it’s stuck in the past desperately trying to see over the steering wheel through the windshield and mistaking the rearview mirror for what’s up ahead.

It’s a balancing act to grow our critical voice into a praising supportive voice that has our back. The good news-bad news is the voice isn’t going away.

However, the negative impact of the voice can be greatly diminished by getting it into shape to succeed at winning the game we want to play in life and at work. E.g., giving it a booster seat so it can see through the windshield.

To get into the physical shape we desire we know we must go to the gym on a regular basis. When it comes to getting our mind into shape, we have to go to the gym as well … The G.Y.M. (Guide Your Mind).

On a daily basis for the rest of our lives, we must learn to condition our mind to focus on the bright side of what we do and who we are while negating the negative side.

Staying positive

My go to exercises of choice for doing this are affirmations and the 3:1 focus and review.

Affirmations are positive statements or intentions of how we desire to be and to perform, crafted in a way that feels real and bypasses our B.S. meter. Not that B.S … I’m talking about the “Belief System” meter.

A belief is a thought that we have over and over again which has become a feeling within us of absolute certainty of being true. There is a way to craft them so they work and there is the other way.

The way for them to be effective is for them to be believable. If we only make $50,000 per year and we tell ourselves we make a million dollars a year without the willingness to do anything differently, the B.S. meter is going to go off the charts. However, if we craft it in a way to say, “I’m excited about the idea of learning how to make a million dollars a year and taking desirable action to make it happen,” it doesn’t trip the B.S. meter.

Find a way of creating your affirmations so that they feel believable. You wouldn’t go to the gym for the first time and try to lift 1,000 pounds over your head. You would start with very light weights, so you don’t hurt yourself. Affirmations are the same. Start light and keep on keepin’ on to make the progress you want.

The 3:1 focus and review is simply loading up three positive observations of how I did something and who I am for every one critical observation. This one I work in reverse because the critical voice tends to still get the jump on the conversation.

When the critical voice chimes in with how I could have done something better or what I did was not good enough, I have developed the habit of coming up with three observations of what I did well and how good I am for having taken the action in the first place.

This week try crafting and reciting your winning affirmations and having more 3:1 focus and review internal dialogues. Notice the changes that come about in how you feel and what you get done.

And remember your inner Einstein, “what you say to yourself before you look at something determines what you see.”

Make it up, make it fun, and get it done!

#1 bestselling author Machen P. MacDonald, CPCC, CCSC is a certified life and business coach with ProBrilliance Leadership Institute in Grass Valley. He helps business people gain more confidence and clarity to live their ideal life. He can be reached at and 530-273-8000.

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