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Sep 07

3 Proven Psychological Strategies to Add Years to Your Life!

By Dr. Jack Singer | Confidence , Self Improvement , Stress Management

No, we haven’t found the fountain of youth. However, psychologists and neuroscientists have conducted a ton of research regarding how people can flourish in this life and enjoy happiness, while actually extending their lives— in both a physically and mentally healthy way. This post truly captures the essence of the three most powerful, research-based psychological strategies to make this happen – quickly and permanently!

1. Maintain optimistic expectations

Optimistic expectations can help you challenge setbacks that come your way. Neuroscientists have discovered that self-talk can actually re-wire your brain in either a very positive or very negative way, depending on whether it is optimistic or pessimistic. This re-wiring process is called “neuroplasticity.” One of the best ways of changing your thinking is to develop an optimistic interpretation of negative events that you experience.

Burgeoning research by Dr. Martin Seligman (“Learned Optimism”) involved hundreds of studies where people were trained to change their hard-wiring from reacting to disappointing events pessimistically, to reacting optimistically. Thus effectively changing feelings of helplessness and hopelessness (the main contributors to depression) to hope and self-confidence helped them eliminate their feelings of depression.

Many of these studies also show when people develop an optimistic attribution of negative events, they can often recover from the physical challenges associated with chronic depression and anxiety.

So, how do you explain setbacks and unfortunate events to yourself?

How do you persevere and remain resilient under adverse circumstances?

Do you look at setbacks as overwhelming catastrophes or as hurdles that can be overcome?

[Tweet “Be #optimistic, laugh often—build a strong support system. Find out how to extend your life:”]

How Pessimistic People View Setbacks

I refer to this kind of self-talk as “linguistic toxicity.” When bad things happen, pessimistically hard-wired people tell themselves such things as:

  • Internal Cause (“It’s my fault.”)
  • Permanent (“It’s a permanent flaw.”)
  • Pervasive (“It’s always going to be this way for the rest of my life.”)

How Pessimistic People View Good Outcomes

When good things happen to pessimistically hard-wired people, they view it as

  • External Cause (“It was a fluke, or luck.”)
  • Temporary (“This won’t last.”)
  • Exclusive (“I was lucky with this, but the rest of my life is awful.”)

How Optimistic People View Setbacks

I refer to this type of self-talk as “linguistic nutrition.” People who are hard-wired, or learn to give themselves optimistic explanations for setbacks, view them as follows:

  • External Cause (“This was a fluke and an exception to the rule of how things go with me.”)
  • Temporary (“This is a fluke occurrence. It won’t happen again.”)
  • Exclusivity (“I had difficulty dealing with this, but in the rest of my life I am thriving.”)

How Optimistic People View Good Outcomes

People that are optimistic expect good outcomes to occur frequently.

  • Internal Cause (“It’s my skills, work ethic and motivation that caused this to happen.”)
  • Permanent (“I certainly expect good things to continually happen to me.”)
  • Pervasive (“This is just one example in my life where I have the skills and talent to be successful.”)

Obviously, it is extremely important for people who are not hard-wired to attribute unfortunate outcomes in an optimistic sense, to learn how to remove their pessimistic thinking habits, and change them to positive thinking.

2.  Laugh as often as possible

Research on the amazingly powerful effects of laughing on the body and mind started with the groundbreaking book by Norman Cousins (“The Anatomy of an Illness”).  Cousins chronicled how he completely recovered from a terminal diagnosis by laughing out loud several times a day, for at least a few minutes each time.  He produced the humor by watching the funniest videos he could find (“The Three Stooges,” “Candid Camera,” and others) while hospitalized for his illness.

Once he saw how his pain subsided while laughing, he convinced the medical staff to take his blood pre and post laughing episodes.  The results were remarkable.

His symptoms immediately went into remission, and he helped fund massive research projects studying the power effects of laughing and having fun on brain chemistry, and the eradication of physical symptoms.  One of the more modern advocates of the power of bringing fun and humor into ones’ life is Dr. Steve Allen, Jr., a physician and the son of the famous comedian, Steve Allen.

3.  Maintain a strong support system of friends and family

Depression affects nearly 15 million Americans and each year close to 43,000 commit suicide in this country. Recent research into how to minimize depression without using psychotropic medication demonstrates the idea of an “Anti-Depression Toolkit.”

Three powerful tools in the toolkit are are:

a) using healthy self-talk (“linguistic nutrition”)

b) any form of spirituality, including prayer and meditation

c) frequent exercise.

However, the most important “tool” by far is having a caring, empathetic, and non-judgmental support system.  While depressed individuals often lack the energy or motivation to reach out, it is a critical component of mental health. For example, widows and widowers are particularly vulnerable—having lost their soul mate, and they can slip into depression if they do not build an alternative support system. If you suffer from depression, you must also stay away from critical, judgmental, anxiety-provoking, and demanding people. You can always consult with a therapist to decide who to include and exclude from your network.

Research shows that when one has a strong support network their emotional strength grows. This means getting involved with an objective sounding board of like-minded peers, and removing yourself from the isolation that accompanies depression. Social interaction is conducive to a healthy and active lifestyle.

There you have it. Do you want to build amazing resilience to stress, add joy to your life, and extend your well-being far more than you have ever dreamed? Add an optimistic and expected habit. It brings fun and laughter into each day, and nourishes your support system.

Aug 04

Simple Secrets for Using the Power of Positive Affirmations to Supercharge Your Sales Success

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Confidence , Sales Professionals , Self Improvement

Since Ruth Fishel published her classic book, Change Almost Anything in 21 Days,” the power of using positive affirmations has gained much attention.  We now know from the rich research conducted in the field of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that our belief systems and the thoughts connected with them drive our success or failure.

Much outcome research has been conducted with sales professionals. Why do some sales professionals get overwhelmed and flee the profession within a year, while others flourish and continue to build successful careers?  The answer lies in the self-talk habits that sales professionals bring with them when they first enter the profession and continue to use as they adapt to the stresses and strains of selling as a career.

What Are Affirmations?

Affirmations, positive or negative, are the statements we make to ourselves, based on how we interpret the situation in which we find ourselves at the moment.

All too often, our affirmations are negative and self-defeating, such as “That client said ‘no’ to the sale because I screwed up.”

Such a negative affirmation will produce serious damage to the sales professional’s confidence and self-esteem, thus leading to more “failed sales attempts,” and a self-fulfilling prophecy of feeling hopeless and helpless results in continual selling failures.

The good news is that we have choices in the types of affirmations that we say to ourselves, and positive affirmations said consistently can have powerful benefits, both in career success and even your health.

World-renowned experts, such as Dr. Bernie Siegel and Dr. Martin Seligman, the father of the Positive Psychology Movement, point to many cases of people overcoming devastating illnesses, using positive thinking, including repeating positive affirmations.

Dr. Seligman sites 40 years of his own research connecting sales success with affirmations that sales professionals use to maintain an attitude of optimism and gratefulness, discarding “failed” sales as flukes and focusing on the next sales opportunity.

5 Characteristics of Successful Affirmations

1. They must be positive.

The verbiage must always be positive. For example, saying, ”I am confident about my sales skills” is much better than saying “I no longer doubt myself in terms of my sales skills.”

2. The must be said with passion and gusto.

When we believe that our affirmations are true and in the present, and we repeat them with power and energy, we begin the process of conditioning our subconscious minds to actually strive toward making these beliefs true in the present.

Affirmations must be given more than lip service. When you say it with conviction, feel it by visualizing it as real, and let the wonderful feelings of having already accomplished this, then you re-program your mind and your body to accept it as part of the new you.

“I know that what I have to offer my customers will absolutely impact them in a positive way and they will thank me over and over for providing these products (or services) to them!”

[Tweet “Supercharge your #sales success with positive affirmations! Learn how here.”]

3. They must be said in the present moment.

Our subconscious minds do not know whether something is happening in reality or in our minds. For example, if you close your eyes and visualize holding a half of a lemon and see yourself taking a juicy bite out of it, you will salivate, as your subconscious mind believes this visualization is in fact really happening.  Our bodies respond to what we think about just as if it were actually happening at that moment.

So, with affirmations, be sure to state them in the most positive way and as if they are happening and real, right now. Even if you don’t know who your next prospect is, state it as if you have already met this potential customer:

“I know exactly how my product (service) will benefit this customer and if I were this customer’s best friend, I know exactly what I would say right now to convince him to buy.”

4. They must be realistic.

Giving yourself unrealistic affirmations sets you up for frustration and disappointment. Positive affirmations should reflect views of yourself and your success that are truly possible, not only in your fantasies.   For example, I cannot realistically affirm that I am becoming a famous actor or athlete, but I can affirm that I am a terrific psychologist and mentor for sales professionals.

5. They must be personal.

We can only make affirmations about ourselves, not what we want other people to be.  So, give yourself affirmations about your success as a sales professional, living out your career goals in the present.

A wonderful example of using a positive affirmation to explain ones’ success, despite missed opportunities in the past, is this quote from Michael Jordan:

I have missed more than 9000 shots in my career.  I have lost almost 300 games.  On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game-winning shot and I have missed.  I have failed over and over again in my life.  And that’s precisely why I succeed!”

How to Get Started Using Positive Affirmations

  • Use your computer desktop to post your affirmations and repeat them at least 10 times a day, rotating new ones weekly
  • Use sticky notes posted on your bathroom mirror so you will begin to repeat your affirmations while brushing your teeth or brushing your hair
  • Use more sticky notes on your refrigerator, your car visor, or other places that you frequent daily
  • Use affirmations as mantras to use during meditation, while engaged in yoga and while conducting mindfulness exercises

The key to success is repetition and, as Ruth Fishel has shown, if you are consistent, you can change your life and your success in as little as 21 days!

Sep 23

3 Action Plans for Championship Sales

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Sales Professionals

By Jack Singer, Ph.D.

Why is it that some salespeople with the most talent are often not the most successful?  What gets in their way?  How can some sales people with less natural talent over-achieve and reach much more sales success than their more talented colleagues?  

Are there specific mental skills that can lead anyone toward championship levels of sales performance?  What separates the mindset of a champion from that of the also-rans? 

Traditional sales training programs ignore the biggest obstacles to success.  Instead, they focus on specific sales and closing techniques.  But the biggest obstacles are not sales talent, motivation or knowledge of techniques. The biggest obstacles, like those overcome by champion athletes, are the internal, mental and emotional barriers that sales professionals face on a daily basis.. 

Below are three powerful components of the mindset of a champion.  Put them into action today and watch your sales performance skyrocket! 

Take Charge of Your Internal Dialogue: Engage the linguistic nutrition of championship performance

Your self-talk is the foundation of your belief system and your belief system determines your attitudes about your success or lack of it in your sales career.  Inner thoughts either set you up for success or failure.  So often, people unconsciously use self-limiting thoughts which prevent them from being successful. It’s a form of unintended self-sabotage.  

Examples of such self-talk phrases, are:  “The economy will make this a tough sell now” or   “I’ll be lucky if I make half the sales I made last year.”  These kinds of thoughts are like eating junk food once you decide that a healthy eating lifestyle is just too difficult to maintain. Your thoughts set you up for failure. 

Your thoughts determine your beliefs and your beliefs develop your attitudes, which determine your behaviors and actions.  Therefore, negative, pessimistic thoughts will ultimately lead to procrastination and poor sales outcomes.  Such thoughts actually convince your mind that you will fail. 

Action Plan 1:

Keep a written journal of negative thoughts that enter your mind regarding your sales performance and notice the patterns.  Then, use rational thinking to counterpunch each negative thought with a healthy, positive thought.  Example:  Change “This economy will drive my customers away now.” to “I don’t have to be successful with every client.  This is a numbers game. I am a sharp, creative person and I’ll find new markets/customers for my product, despite the economy.  I’ll keep my eyes open for opportunities, which I really believe will present themselves.”

Unleash the Power of Your Mind:  Plow through the mental road blocks to championship performance 

Your subconscious mind takes orders from you without judging success or failure. You always have the choice in what you feed to your subconscious mind. Therefore, you must believe in yourself and in the value of the products you are selling.  Eliminate “imposter fears,” which are the belief that you really are not good at what you do or your products are really not as valuable to potential customers as you propose they are.

So often, salespeople focus on their failures and what they did not achieve.  Instead, you need to focus on what you have achieved. You can actually program your mind to believe in your strengths and your ultimate success. 

Just as athletes focus on their strengths, you can focus on yours.  Always remember that your product knowledge, your customer service skills and your sincere concern that the customer is satisfied and better off having purchased your products or services will overcome any deficiencies you see in yourself.

Action Plan 2:  Practice presenting a positive attitude toward everyone you meet, not just prospective clients and customers. Constantly pat yourself on the back with positive self-talk, such as, “I provide a valuable service to my clients” and “I help people achieve their goals.” 

Focus on good results you have achieved in your sales career and pat yourself on the back.  Learn from results you were not pleased with in the past and move on.  Keep a SUCCESS JOURNAL.  Record times you were on a roll and situations where you were really proud of what you accomplished.  Each day put at least one item on your list.  Review the list of successes regularly, especially when you are having a worrisome day. 

Fill Your Mind with Optimistic Expectations: Unleash the most powerful mental tool that drives championship performance

Research conducted over 30 years with over one million participants has determined that there is a single, powerful predictor of sales achievement—optimistic expectations. 

Ability and motivation in ones’ sales career are not always enough to guarantee consistent results. Expectations of success or failure are self-fulfilling prophecies that often determine the outcomes, regardless of ability and motivation.  The research also shows that people who develop learned optimism live longer and healthier lives, so there are major benefits that go far beyond your career. 

The key here is to believe that you will succeed, despite the challenges, obstacles and setbacks that are inevitable in your sales career. Continue to believe you will succeed, even in the face of resistance, rejection and hostility.  How you explain to yourself and react to setbacks in your sales career is a crucial determinant of how successful you will ultimately be.  Training yourself to look at setbacks as temporary challenges and minimizing those setbacks with the knowledge that you can find a solution and overcome them, predicts ultimate success.  

Action Plan 3:  Developing optimistic expectations can be learned!  Even if you are a chronic pessimist and your parents or spouse is a pessimistic thinker, you can absolutely learn ways to overcome the negative beliefs that underlie your pessimistic explanatory style.  Revisit Action Plan 1 (above) because the best way to develop an optimistic explanatory style is by understanding your own negative thinking patterns and practicing changing them.  You can also get cognitive training from a professional psychologist or by attending training seminars directed at teaching you learned optimism.  Such training will do wonders for your career and in your life!

Dr. Jack Singer is a professional speaker, trainer and licensed psychologist. He has been speaking for and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, CEO’s, sales forces  and elite athletes for 34 years.  Dr. Jack is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, GLENN BECK, FOX SPORTS and countless radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada.  He is the author of “The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” and several series of hypnotic audio programs– some specifically for athletes and others for anyone wanting to raise their self-confidence, self-esteem and optimism. For more information, see: www.drjacksinger.com