Thoughts are Things

The author Napoleon Hill once said that “to live a life of success, one must first think with a success mindset.” He was one of the first authors to write about the Law of Attraction. That is, what we think about on a consistent basis starts to manifest itself in our physical environment. For years, psychologists and behavioral researchers have studied this phenomenon. Some have called it the power of positive thinking (much of the positive psychology movement focuses on this principle). Others have explored mindfulness and the ability to visualize success before it happens. Researchers in the mindfulness movement suggest that focusing on the moment, and staying present can transmutate thoughts into things.

As a management psychologist, my clients often come to be with the success question. How does one define success? Is it more money? More influence in an organization? Greater positions of power? Making it to the c-suite? Becoming a CEO? We all measure success in different ways. I’ve had clients that define success by some of these measures. Others have defined success by the ability to impact the lives of their people, by helping people to grow and develop, or by leaving a legacy for the next generation of leaders. Regardless of the desired end, there are certain underlying principles that lead one to success (however a person chooses to define it). These timeless principles can help any leader turn their thoughts into things:

  1. Start with the End in Mind: To accomplish any important thing in life, you should have a clear direction of where you want to go. Whether it is getting that promotion or working for the company of your dreams, it is important to set goals. S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound) goals are a great way to get to our desired outcomes. Additionally, make sure your goals are definitive. Wishing for a promotion won’t get you there. Setting a goal to be a Vice President in two years when you’re currently a Director is more reasonable. Also, be aware when you begin to deviate from your goals and take immediate corrective action to get back on the right path.
  2. Visualization: For years, professional athletes have worked with sports psychologists to visualize success in their respective disciplines. For example, basketball players are advised to visualize hitting the game winning shot during the NBA Finals. Quarterbacks in the NFL are encouraged to visualize leading the game winning drive for a touchdown in the final minutes of the Super Bowl. In business, the same visualization techniques apply. If you want to be a CEO or business owner, picture yourself as that person. Visualize the person you desire to become. Set aside time each day to be alone and undisturbed. Get comfortable and relax. Then, close your eyes and concentrate on your desired outcomes. See yourself as the CEO or business owner. Believe that you are capable and confident in getting there.
  3. Reflect on Your Past Successes: Every success, be it large or small, is proof that you can achieve more success. Celebrate each success. Take time to reflect on what you did to accomplish that objective. Write down in a journal what it meant to you to be able to reach your desired outcome. You can recall these instances when you begin to lose faith in yourself. Additionally, as you continue to accomplish more, you can start to set higher goals and objectives. For example, if you’re a sales leader you could reflect on times when you made the big sale or times when you won that new customer. Reflecting on these wins will help prepare for the next big sale or landing the next customer.
  4. The Power of Prayer and Meditation: Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, research has found that prayer and meditation help people move forward in life. Our thoughts become things when we reflect on them for extended periods of time. Using prayer and meditation to bring about our desired outcomes is correlated with visualization techniques. In both instances, the concentrated positive energy and focus on a specific objective leads to its attainment. Set aside the same time each day for prayer or meditation. It can be early in the morning when you first wake up, or at the end of your day right before you go to sleep. The key factor is consistency. Practicing meditation takes time and the skill is not acquired overnight. So, make sure to devote time to growing in this area.
  5. Developing an RPM (Rapid Planning Method) Plan: There is one tool above all others that influences the quality of life – the capacity to take a vision of what you want and make it a reality. When somebody has attained an important goal or objective in life, they have found a way to maximize their resources, their time, their physical energy, the people they know, and the concepts they’ve learned. Focus equals power. RPM planning, developed by Tony Robbins, is a way to maximize the results of your life by focusing on a specific outcome (a result), why it is important to you (your purpose), and what you will do to get there (action plan). The Results-oriented Purpose drive, Massive action plan revolves around three simple questions: a) what’s the specific outcome you’re after; b) what are your reasons for wanting a specific outcome; and c) what do you need to do to make it happen. Using these questions to develop your game plan enables you to outline the specific steps that will get you to your goal. Remember to ask yourself these three questions, spending the most time on developing your massive action plan.

Thoughts are things. Whatever we focus on consistently becomes our reality. The good thing about this is that we can focus on whatever goals or vision for the future that we desire. The bad thing is that the Law of Attraction can work against us when we focus on the possibility of negative things happening. Remember, whatever you focus on (good or bad) will manifest itself in your life. The poet, Jessie B. Rittenhouse, captures this best when he said:

“I bargained with Life for a penny, and Life would pay no more,  However I begged at evening, when I counted my scanty store;

For Life is just an employer, He gives you what you ask, But once you have set the wages, why, you must bear the task.

I worked for a menial’s hire, only to learn, dismayed, That any wage I had asked of Life, Life would have paid.”

For more information on the Law of Attraction, contact Bandelli & Associates at

Leadership Matters. Without It, People Fail.