Previously I had introduced the book, As A Man Thinketh, by James Allen, as a principle of effective leadership. For this entry, I want to focus on Chapter 5 of this book, The Thought-Factor in Achievement.
Allen states, “A man can only rise, conquer, and achieve by lifting up his thoughts.” How true? A person dwelling in the negative is rarely if ever an effective leader. How could she/he be? Without seeking positive outcomes, a person focused on the negative will be self-guided in that direction. I liken this to sports psychologists who talk about envisioning the outcome. For example, a professional golfer will typically stand behind their upcoming shot and envision their swing, the flight of the ball and the outcome of the well executed shot.
There are many examples of psychology throughout sports. Sports psychology has been around for years, but not something most fans give much thought. Tiger Woods, one of the world’s best golfers began seeing a sports psychologist as early as age 13. Sports psychology to the professional athlete has become an absolute must in development and continued success. I would venture to say that whether with the coaching of a professional sports psychologist or self directed effort, the overriding theme is a positive outlook, or envisioning the desired outcome from a perfect execution of the action required.
Some years ago, I was able to attend a World Cup Slalom event. (I admit, it was 25 years ago and during the competitive years of the brothers Phil and Steve Mahre). I arrived early enough to observe the pre-race activities and witnessed the ski racers equivalent of the “pre-shot routine.” The most successful racers were starting at the bottom of the course and side stepping up the mountain. They would stop after every 5 or so gates and go through a routine of memorizing the course and envisioning how they would attack each gate. They continued this to the top of the course and by the time they reached the starting gate, had memorized the entire course and knew exactly how they wanted and needed to ski the race and win. They had envisioned every turn, the entire race and themselves finishing as fast as possible. It was an amazing experience that has stayed with me these many years.
We may not see our leaders making the same external motions as a golfer or skier when they envision the successfully executed actions needed to achieve their objectives, but they best do it. Much like an athlete, true leaders will take a thought and develop it into an achievable plan. They then envision the course of the process through to the desired outcome.
Of course, there is much more to it than that. One cannot simply envision the successful outcome of action and expect it to happen. There are many other and important elements, such as the supportive and collaborative efforts of other personnel. The true leader has included these other factors and will trust in the system they’ve created.
These are some of my thoughts from As A Man Thinketh, chapter five. I invite you to click the link below to download your own copy of the book. Read it at your convenience and determine for yourself if it has value as a guide to qualities of leadership.