I know that the concept of “the power of positive thinking” is often met with derision and humour these days – and very often deserves it totally, I’ll admit. You can’t really accomplish anything simply by thinking about it, can you? After all, I didn’t become fluent in languages and launch a successful translation services business simply by repeating a positive “mantra” to myself constantly.
Well, perhaps not. But that doesn’t mean that positive thinking and other mental tricks don’t have an effect. In fact, I believe they do – the brain is a marvellous machine and we barely understand how it works, but no one would deny that your brain has a subconscious aspect to it that works in mysterious ways. Many of us assume we have no control over our own thoughts, but this isn’t true. You can shape how you think, and once you do that you begin to shape the results that you get from your efforts.
Here’s something I did a long time ago that I truly believe had an impact on my success rate and even the quality of the language translation I perform. I removed the word try from my vocabulary.
No, seriously: I stopped answering questions or demands with any form of try. I restricted myself to yes or no, as in “Yes, I can do that” or “No, I can’t do that.” I simply never told anyone – including myself – that I would try.
It sounds silly and useless, but it had an effect. Because suddenly I was free of having to overpromise or overcommit. Since I could no longer “try” to do things, it simplified my decision making. When I took on jobs it was with the full confidence that I knew I could deliver what I was being asked to do – and if I had any doubts whatsoever, there was no longer a weak third option. I had no choice but to say “no.”
One of the most surprising results of this was that most of the times I was tempted to say “I’ll try” I said instead “Yes, I can do that.” And my success ratio went up. I believe that’s because I was no longer giving myself the “Out” of only trying. When I was saying I would try, I was essentially allowing myself to fail, because I’d only promised to try, after all. Once I started saying definitively that I would do something, failure wasn’t an option. I wasn’t trying. I was doing.
As I said: This isn’t magic. But it does have an effect, and it’s a positive one, I think. And after all, what does it cost you? Remove try from your vocabulary today and see what happens. I’ll bet you’re pleasantly surprised at what happens in both your work and your personal achievements, simply because you’ve removed the grey areas we all use to give ourselves excuses.
Image courtesy onestopaloeshop.com