As I thought about it, I realized that how I perceive myself is far more important than how I am perceived by others. That’s because our self perception shapes how others perceive us.
As a salesperson, if I make a call with the self perception that I am an intrusion in that persons day, that is most likely how I will be perceived by the prospect. Or, if I make a call with the self perception that I can provide a useful product or service that will help the prospect in some way, then my odds of being perceived as such are far higher. It all starts with the story we tell ourselves. I used the sales analogy because that is what I do, but it actually applies to everything we do.
Zig Ziglar’s quote “if you think you can, or you think can’t, you’re right” is so true. I think we have to add as long as that is God’s will in your life to Zig’s statement. I’m 5’10’ and middle aged, I won’t be playing in the NBA no matter how much I think I can. Keeping in mind that He want’s what is best for us. So often I settle for less than the best. It boils down to the story I am telling myself, or the story I choose to believe. That story can be a wrong perception based on many influences in our lives. If I think I can’t loose weight and get in shape, I never will. Or a positive perception, like if my attitude is open and positive, I can achieve far more than I dreamed I could.
Two great books on the subject are What to Say When You Talk To Yourself by Shad Helmstetter on positive thought programming, and Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon Hill, on thinking for ourselves. Both have great example of how to control our thoughts, and how to avoid letting our thoughts be controlled by someone else.
It is so easy to fall into the comparison trap, to equate our own self value based on what others are doing. To perceive that I am a failure based on another person being more successful than I am. Forgetting that they might have 10 years more experience, and I am doing well for where I am. The flip side of this to think I am better than others, the at least I’m not as bad as so and so, or at least I don’t do what so and so does. Basically I try to make myself feel better by a negative comparison. It’s a destructive but easy habit to fall in to. Especially for us competitive types. Most of my negative self perception comes from the comparison trap.
Positive self perception requires active thinking. We have to focus on who we truly are, and who we want to become. It’s important to have the attitude and perception that you are already where you want to be, already who you want to be, and already accomplished what you want to accomplish.
Wishful thinking? I don’t think so. To paraphrase Zig, if you don’t think you are, you never will be.