“Hope” is not a success strategy, but this is.

"Hope" is not a success strategy!
Last year, I applied to be a speaker and behind-the-scenes crew member at an international conference. Since I’d already spoken at another conference held by the same organization, I was feeling confident – maybe even a bit smug – about being accepted again. I sat back and waited to get the notification.

And I did get notified; unfortunately, I was notified that I was not selected to speak.

Mindset can be a tool for success OR failure.My first reaction was a messy combination of disbelief, embarrassment, and verbal beating up on myself, topped off by a depressing image of myself being as appealing and attractive as pond scum.

Not my finest moment.

I made a lot of mistakes in approaching this conference opportunity. One of the biggest was sitting back and, basically, hoping my previous, well-received performance would be enough to get me invited back.

This experience led me to wonder if there have been other times when I unconsciously used hope as my primary success strategy. Since even one time is too much, I decided to start keeping an eye on myself so I could replace hope with something just a bit more effective.

Of all the good lessons I learned from this disappointment, the bottom-line lesson was this: Get your thoughts working for you instead of against you.

Here are seven powerful tips for getting your head fully – and successfully – in the game.

Allow yourself to fully feel the inevitable disappointments.

This may sound counter-intuitive, but I’ve found it works great.

Since “what we resist, persists,” trying to push aside thoughts of disappointment tends to make them stronger and more negative. Instead, give yourself 15 minutes – more if you need it – to acknowledge and just sit with the disappointment. This makes it easier to accept it and move on.

Do less of what doesn’t work and more of what does.

Okay, that’s a bit facetious, but it’s still true.

When thinking back to the difference between my successful proposal to speak and the not-so-successful one, I realized I had neglected to do several things the second time through. I hadn’t:


To prepare for the next speaking opportunity, I’ll make it a point to do all of these things consistently and thoroughly.

Resist the temptation to just go through the motions.

I think that’s what I did with that second proposal. Smugness and/or laziness contributed to my disappointing results.

It was a hard reminder that you’re a lot more likely to succeed when you realize any significant project deserves your best effort, not a half-assed one.

Accept that what you have to offer is (in)valuable to the right clients.

You may be one of far too many talented entrepreneurs who aren’t clear on their value, or hesitate to claim it, or compare themselves unfavorably to other professionals.

And this serves you…how?

Your mindset will create success or failure. Your choice.

It’s time to stop questioning your worth: Listen to and believe those who tell you what a difference you made in their lives. Refuse to give discounts in order to get a client; you’re discounting not just your price, but your value. Affirm and believe that there are people out there for whom you are the answer to a prayer.

Consciously choose how you respond to events.

People often place their emotional well-being at the mercy of circumstances. Have you ever reacted to an aggravation in a way that made it worse?

Your mental health, ability to bounce back, and ultimate results will all be better if you choose to view and respond to such events as temporary setbacks rather than crushing defeats. And it is a choice; you just have to make it.

Claim your own experiences, thoughts, beliefs, and emotions.

How many times have you heard someone (perhaps yourself) say, “You make me so mad!”?

This sort of thinking and speaking is incredibly dangerous, because you are implicitly turning control of your experiences over to someone else.

You have the right and the responsibility to feel what you feel and express that appropriately. So commit to using “I” language, as in, “I’m so mad at you right now!” It’s not comfortable, but it’s certainly more accurate and powerful.

Stay focused on your desired outcome.

My parents did an amazing job of brainwashing me, starting when I was in elementary school: As far back as I can remember, we had conversations about “when you leave for college”.

Mom and Dad were completely focused on their desired outcome: ensuring my sisters and I had the opportunities that come with a college degree. They were so clear and focused that they in effect created that outcome years before I ever chose a university. In fact, I was probably in my mid-twenties before it actually occurred to me that I hadn’t had to go to college full time, starting immediately after high school graduation. Who knew?

I grew up in a lower-middle-class family, so sending three kids to college was no mean feat. My parents didn’t get hung up on what Mike Dooley calls “the cursed hows”; they just committed to making that imagined goal a reality. And it worked – for all three kids.

Why are you choosing to accomplish something? How will you feel as a result of achieving your desire? How will it feed you – emotionally, mentally, financially, and spiritually?

Those are the things to stay focused on, because that focus will make it far easier to take all the baby steps necessary to bring your goal to fruition.


When you consistently apply these strategies, it’s like doing a serious mental cleanse. You start to rid yourself of small, self-sabotaging thoughts and beliefs, and you begin to replace them with stronger, more productive ways of thinking, believing, and acting.

Is this fast and easy? I wish. Is it worthwhile? Only if you’re ready to be, do, and have more.

What are some ways you keep your mind working for you, rather than against you? Please share your favorite tactics in the Comments section below, so the rest of us can add them to our tool chests.

And to thank you for the tips, I’ll be happy to send you a summary of the lessons from Mike Dooley’s great course, Infinite Possibilities: The Art of Changing Your Life.

(Speaking of thanks, I owe some to Comrade King for the crossed-fingers image and to Bill Strong for the pond scum. Both were posted in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)

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