The Leading Edge

Your Guide to Turning Barriers into Bridges

When Working Harder Doesn’t Work

All of my CEO clients have a track record of persistence in the face of challenges. This tenacity has served them well in turning barriers into bridges. But sometimes bull-headedness, the ugly stepsister of persistence, can take over and wreak havoc on results.

One CEO client, for instance, was struggling to make behavioral changes he believed would support him in being the leader his business needed in order to grow. He was committed to making these changes, but breaking patterns developed over his 20-year career wasn’t happening as easily as he’d hoped.

In the past, when faced with difficulties, his behavior patterns often let his inner critics take over, sucking him into a vortex of self-doubt and anxiety. No wonder he wanted to adopt a new approach—being calm and confident, focusing on things within his control. Unfortunately, in a moment of crisis, finding an inner place of peace didn’t even enter his mind.

His time-tested strategy of working harder wasn’t helping him building this new habit, and his growing frustration made it difficult for him to build any momentum toward success. He needed to try something different. So we decided to use affirmations to tap into his non-conscious for support.

What are affirmations and how do they work?

Affirmations are positive statements that describe a desired situation. Repeated often—with attention, conviction, interest and desire—they impress the subconscious mind and trigger it into positive action.

Brain science tells us that at any one time, our conscious mind can hold between three to seven bits of information, give or take three or four items. But our non-conscious mind can hold upwards of 5 MILLION bits of data at any one time.

Sound far-fetched? Have you ever driven somewhere and then realized you weren’t really paying attention to how you got there? It was your non-conscious mind that navigated the traffic flow, knew where to turn, and kept you alive.

Our non-conscious mind really follows what our conscious mind directs it to do. But we’re often preoccupied with all we don’t want, which means we’re actually programming ourselves with negative affirmations. Ouch.

So what did this CEO do?

  1. First, he clarified what he really wanted—calm and confidence. He also pictured himself turning off his computer at the end of the day, feeling proud of what he’d accomplished, and ready to begin his evening.
  2. Next, we co-created a few brief phrases that fit this picture and inspired him.
  3. He repeated this sentence to himself at the times they’d have the most impact—first thing in the morning as he was waking up, and last thing at night as he was falling asleep.

What happened?

Rather than struggling to make changes, this client began to feel more natural being the calm and decisive leader his business needed. Rather than expending a lot of effort, investing a few moments each day thinking well-chosen thoughts had put him on the road to achieving the success he wanted.

Your Turn

I’d love to hear how you’ve turned barriers into bridges and what those strategies have done for your business and your life. Write


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