Harnessing the power of positive thinking

April 17, 2019 | 1 min read

Gamblers who talk to their dice in the hopes of influencing the outcome are an example of something known as the “illusion of control”. The inverse also exists, when people incorrectly believe that they are powerless to influence a given situation. Generally speaking, it’s helpful to believe in your own ability to influence matters. In fact, positive thinking can help you take your career to the next level.

The illusion of control can be tricky

We’ve all been there: you spend your Monday morning carefully planning your work week, only to have your entire schedule shot to pieces by lunchtime. Inevitably, a host of unexpected issues will pop up, forcing you to adjust your plans and leaving you feeling frustrated and even powerless. Regain your focus by remembering these wise words: “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” The belief that we have total control over our lives is a particularly difficult illusion to shake. It causes us to waste valuable time and energy. But there are also times when the opposite is true.

Feeling powerless is worse

When it comes to making decisions, you often have more control over the outcome than you think. For example, imagine you have concerns during the kick-off meeting for a new project. If you choose not to raise these concerns with your boss, you’re essentially failing to take control and missing an opportunity to influence the results. In such cases, underestimating your level of control is actually worse than overestimating it.

Positive thinking is best

It’s often difficult to determine what you can and cannot change. When in doubt, it’s best to operate on the assumption that you do have the ability to influence matters. The positives of this approach nearly always outweigh the negatives. This is especially true in the business world, where the ability to influence matters is essential to achieving good results. Using your influence at precisely the right moment is one of the skills that you’ll learn in an executive master’s program. Once you understand when and how to exert control over situations, you’ll have the tools you need to get people in your organization on board with your ideas. In turn, this will help you to qualify for positions with a greater level of responsibility.

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