One of the best examples I know of the power of a positive mental approach is my friend Erden Eruc (I mentioned him before in this post on overcoming obstacles). Earlier this year, he spent a world-record 312 days rowing across the Pacific.
Today, he is in Manila, Philippines, preparing to pick his row up where he left off on his quest to circumnavigate the world by human power. I talked to him recently about a stretch of his upcoming row that would be particularly dangerous and challenging. That in turn sparked a conversation about the mental aspect of what he is doing.
When you're trying to do something as big and hairy and challenging as Erden is, the corrosive nature of negative thoughts is exponentially amplified. "I can't focus on the negative," he said. "I have to focus on the goal. It's about repetition and visualization and direction of my thoughts towards that goal."
For Erden, it's a question of belief. "It's about setting goals and believing you can. When you really believe you can, your mind will suppress the negative."
While a positive focus is vital, it's not about denial. When you have the belief that you can, said Erden, "then you can play devil's advocate. Then, you can look at what can go wrong for risk management."
Without that belief as a foundation, the negative potential inherent in most goals worth stretching for can take on a life of its own. The obstacles become the path. With that belief, we can see the obstacles as simply something to navigate around on the way to our ultimate objective.
After years as a professional malcontent, Curt Rosengren discovered the power of passion. As a speaker, author, and coach, Rosengren helps people create careers that energize and inspire them. His book 101 Ways to Get Wild About Work and his E-book The Occupational Adventure Guide offer people tools for turning dreams into reality. Rosengren's blog, The M.A.P. Maker, explores how to craft a life of meaning, abundance, and passion.