Mindset is the engine that powers success

Leadership Quote4

Have you ever done something you once thought you couldn’t do? When I was younger, I believed I couldn’t run a marathon. I thought: “Only ‘real’ runners do marathons.”, or “My knees can’t handle it.”, or a million other limiting beliefs repeated in my head. On my 30-year anniversary of running, I realized I am a real runner, and that if I want to run a marathon, I just have this one life to do it, and I’m not getting any younger. My beliefs had limited what I thought I could do, which kept me from taking certain actions. Then actions and results I’d taken over time (i.e., a long history of running) shifted my beliefs and thoughts about what’s possible, leading to different actions and results – I successfully ran that marathon.


“It is better to believe than to disbelieve;

in so doing you are bringing everything

 to the realm of possibility.”

– Albert Einstein

Our beliefs and thoughts determine our actions and the results we achieve. In turn, the results we get affect our beliefs. There’s a powerful interplay between what happens mentally (what we believe and think) and what happens physically (the actions we take and results we achieve). What we think – the words and tone we use, the stories we tell ourselves – has a direct impact on how we behave. We can move from the impossible to the possible with a shift in our thoughts and beliefs.

 “We become what we think about all day long.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

How do we shift our beliefs and thoughts? We pay attention what’s happening in our minds. What we say in our heads all day provides a kind of feedback that we can use to make adjustments in our behavior. And, we employ practices to help us move in the direction we want to go. For example, we can reframe our thoughts and focus our attention. And do it in a way that builds a habit by consistently applying the practices.

When we notice unproductive or negative self-talk, we can REFRAME our thinking, adjusting the words and tone to be of greater service to ourselves. Reframing involves changing the ‘frame’ through which we view an experience, while leaving the facts of the situation alone.  Reframing can help us be more confident or inspired, for example.

“Your own words are the bricks and mortar

of the dreams you want to realize.

Behind every one word flows energy.”

– Sonia Choquette

I’m on a mission to remove the word “overwhelm” from my vocabulary. I’ve noticed myself saying “I am overwhelmed” when I have a lot to do. When I feel like I have more tasks to complete than I possibly can in the available time, I am taking a deep breath, with an especially long relaxing outbreath and inviting a new perspective in my self-talk: “Yes, right now there’s a of opportunity to do stuff that makes a difference. What’s the most important thing for me to complete right now? Let’s start there and then revisit to determine what’s next…” I am using the word ‘overwhelm’ as a trigger to take a deep breath, and then the deep breath as a reminder to invite a new perspective. By doing this each time I notice, I’m creating a habit that shapes a mindset in service of positive action and results.

“We are what we repeatedly do.

Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

– Aristotle

When we notice that our thoughts are scattered, we can FOCUS and direct our thoughts, which can lead to outcomes such as greater productivity and better decision making. When I notice I am multi-tasking to get as many items off my to-do list as possible by the end of the day, I invite myself to be intentional about what I’m doing by shifting my body into what I call an ‘awake posture’ (learn more here). Shifting the experience in my body invites me to set my mind by clearing my head and consciously refocusing my attention.

“Powerful people decide where, how and what

they are going to use their precious energy for.

Whatever you’re giving your attention becomes your intention.”

– Therese Kienast

Question to contemplate:

  • What beliefs do I hold that may limit what’s possible?
  • What thoughts consistently run through my mind? What stories do I repeatedly tell myself?
  • What words and tone do I use in my self-talk?
  • What one small action might I try to tune in more to my thoughts and beliefs?
  • How might I grow awareness of my breath? Of my body? Of the interplay of my physical and mental being?
  • How might reframing or focusing practices support my success?
  • Where do I place my attention? What does that say about my intentions?

* I took the photo in Baltimore Bay in County Cork Ireland.

Author: Vicki L Flaherty

I am most alive when I am creating, whether through writing, photography, gardening, cooking, crafting, sewing, yoga. I enjoy traveling because it opens me to greater awareness and new possibilities. I find a special joy when I’ve helped someone see their brilliance and express their full potential. As I've focused on living more mindfully, I've found special joy in expressing myself through poetry and photography, and in truly being in relationship with those I meet along my journey.

17 thoughts on “Mindset is the engine that powers success”

  1. Thanks Vicki, great article! I read once “overwhelm” is just having one more thing on your plate than we are used to i.e. maybe I feel overwhelmed with 4 things because I’m used to 3, and you feel overwhelmed with 101 things because you’re used to 100. That helped me see how relative my sense of “overwhelm” was. Love the exercise you suggest to take a new perspective when the sense of overwhelm comes us – thanks again!

  2. I love both the difference between believing and planning (or even doing), and the momentum you gained from monitoring your self-talk. You’re so good at that (monitoring it) and I love that you also take action to change it – because you know it limits your energy for believing. Well done! I can learn from you (as always!)

  3. I’m a big believer in the approach that we each (and all) create our own realities. Thinking with intention and taking action are things we can all control, and which can drastically change our experiences. Thank you for bringing this thoughtful piece to my attention!

  4. Do. Or not do. There is no try.

    Thanx to Yoda – or a scriptwriter somewhere.

    Keep ’em coming Vicki … gb

    1. Thanks, Geoff! I love your point – I’ve begun to notice more and more where I say “I will try to X…” Editing that out and going directly to “I will X” can be very empowering – and scary because it ups the game in terms of intention and accountability. Great to be with you here.

  5. I read somewhere that we think 90% the same thoughts every day. That woke me up. I thought well if I’m going to think the same thoughts, I need to put more focus on them being thoughts that I actually want to reflect back in my life. I personally gave up the phrases “I can’t” & “I have to” — those are too much of a negative mindset.

    1. Sunita, thanks for sharing that. I’m all in. Let’s be intentional about those consistent thoughts and create something new and even more amazing for ourselves. Love the phrases you’re eliminating…I catch myself on those, too – so they are not gone, but I’m noticing when they show up and that’s a great step forward! 🙂

  6. Great blog Vicki, thanks! I really like your point about reframing our thinking and removing “overwhelmed” from our vocabulary. I’ll catch myself the next time I want to say I’m overwhelmed or swamped. That’s right up there with removing “I’ll try…” with “I’ll do…”

  7. So true and congrats for a great achievement. Our inner voice can limit us in so many areas of our life. We have so much more than we realise. Thanks for sharing Vicki 💚

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