“There are no overachievers; we all have an almost infinite supply of potential.” Source: Beyond Success, Brian D. Biro
“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” That over-the-top, seemingly unbelievable statement, often quoted by 21st Century writers and speakers, was made by best-selling author Napoleon Hill (1883-1970).
How do you evaluate such a statement? Does it seem to be an exaggeration? Perhaps this is a step too far even for the ‘positive thinking philosophy’ espoused by the many self-help authors of our day. Are there not limitations to what we can do? Have I already reached those limitations in my own life? Has my journey reached its final stage and level of accomplishments? A person can only do so much . . . right?
As the summer of 1979 ushers in the fall season, my excitement and hope for the future of the business that Carol, my wife, and I started, contradict actual financial realities. You would not know we are struggling if speaking with me. We are just hanging on . . . barely surviving. Any small slip could upset our fragile existence; anything of greater magnitude would be the virtual certain death of our company. On September 13, 1979, our world experiences a catastrophic and crushing blow – Hurricane Frederick – historically one of the worst Gulf Coast disasters, hits Mobile, Alabama, our home and business headquarters.
For a small, undercapitalized, barely-surviving business, this storm is the final straw. . . so, it seems. Already in an economic turmoil, we find ourselves now facing one disappointing reality . . . we will lose our company, ending my high school dream of entrepreneurial success. And sadly, our seemingly now-certain fate will be sooner rather than later.
My new book, The BET, which will be published in 2016, gives a detailed look at this unbelievable story. Somehow, in the midst of our greatest crisis, we find unfathomable faith. A powerful belief takes our almost bankrupt company out of danger and 36 years later into 26 locations across 10 states. What is not possible becomes possible!
In this our 41st year, we remain thankful and extremely humbled by what has happened. It all starts with faith back in 1979. It’s a profound faith that is born in the depth of crisis. Have you been there before? Are you there now?
I do believe in the existence of real limitations, but, what are they? What analysis do we use when deciding what is possible and what is not possible? Are the casual comments of family and friends the deciding factor in what we cannot do? (Sometimes well-intentioned people who surround us may be stating what is not possible in their own lives).
How we distinguish between the possible and the impossible is going to make a huge difference in the results we will experience. Does this seem correct to you? If our decisions carry that much value, is it not important – even essential, to understand how to do this? We need to get this right! Much of our lives is at stake.
Dr. Robert Rosenthal, respected clinical and social psychologist, theorizes in published works in 1965 that the limitations we often create for ourselves, as well as for others, actually represent a mindset that is self-fulfilling. Have you heard of the Pygmalion Effect? This principle, (also known as the Rosenthal Effect) suggests that higher expectations lead to an increase in performance. The original source of this belief comes from the Greek Myth of Pygmalion. Rosenthal tests his theory by applying a lesson from that myth, authoring an experiment employing teachers in actual classrooms in 1968. His findings provide positive proof that teacher expectations influence student performance. Positive expectations lead to better performance. Conversely, negative expectations acutely influence performance in a negative sense.
This principle, studied throughout the years, is still being examined and measured today. All the current data confirms that Rosenthal’s thinking was right. Regardless of our perception of the abilities of others, we can improve their performance by simply expecting positive results.
When you expect more from others, they learn to improve. They expect more of themselves. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is not too late. We can start to replace any past negative comments made to others — sometimes even to our own children – by offering positive remarks about possible good outcomes. You can do this today, even though you did something vastly different in the past. If you have been a great provider of positive expectations, you can be comforted in knowing that your approach is helping others to succeed! You can continue to increase the good results by doing what you already know works.
You can positively impact your family, coworkers and friends by simply expecting great things from them. You can do it even with those in whose leadership you depend.
What do you wish for the important people who surround you? The best! Right? Is your conversation, the words and tone you use, accurately communicating the best outcomes? If, in the next 12 months, others achieve what you most desire for them, what would their world (as well as your own) look like in the future? Can you imagine it? Can you expect it!?
Start with unlimited potential.
Add positive expectations.
Achieve better performance.