Psychology of Success

Psycho-Cybernetics and the Three Keys To Success

While many books have been written about how changing the way you think can transform your results, I believe one stands above all the others.

That book is Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz.

It may have a crazy name and it may lack the jazzy marketing of more recent publications.

But his ideas have been repackaged by others and now form the basis of expensive coaching and training programs under different names.

The truth is many people could have saved a lot of time and money by reading this book – and of course implementing his ideas.

In my own experience, I feel I could have saved myself the weeks of time and thousands of dollars I spent learning NLP, hypnosis and other aspects of personal development if only I’d read this book first.

Though clearly I’ve learned a lot from the other sources, I feel Psycho-Cybernetics summarizes and explains the mental aspects of success better than anything else I’ve seen.

One of the factors that makes Maltz stand out is the combination of his expertise in medical matters with a deep understanding of real human psychology.

Maltz was a plastic surgeon who puzzled over why some of clients with physiological disfigurements immediately felt better after plastic surgery, while others continued to have psychological problems despite the physical problem being taken away.

Everyone has their own take on a book. But I thought it was worth sharing some of the key points as I saw them.

1. We get what we focus on

The word cybernetics comes from the Greek word meaning the ‘steersman’.

The key to psycho-cybernetics is that the brain steOn Top of the Worlders us towards a specific outcome based on what we think about and how we react to feedback from the world around us.

This is an inbuilt servo-mechanism which can operate as an automatic success mechanism or as a failure mechanism – depending on where we put our attention.

The automatic mechanism depends on regular feedback to keep it on course.

The mechanism therefore works best if we give it a clear direction by setting specific goals.

Without a clear sense of direction, it will not operate effectively.

2. Self image determines success

While what we focus on is important, our success in getting there is determined by our self-image.

But the reality is that how we feel about ourselves is based on what we think others think – not what they actually think.

Our self-image is vital as it controls what we are capable of and it imposes limits on our achievement that are usually artificial.

What happens is that we magnify non-existent or unimportant flaws in our imagination and we literally hypnotize ourselves to be unsuccessful.

What we need to do instead is take control of our own self-image and learn to become successful.

We need to learn to look at the facts in a situation rather than what we believe to be true. For example, if you think everyone is laughing at you when you are speaking, how do you know that to be true?

We need to learn to use feedback to make small adjustments in our forward progress rather than using it to hold us back from success.

In fact, we often hold ourselves back from future progress by spending too much time focused on events from the past that we cannot change.

To succeed in the future, we have to learn to stop giving power to the past.

3. We create the future we imagine

The principle here is that we tend to focus all our attention and worry on what could go wrong in a situation.

But the fact is our minds cannot tell the difference between imagined outcomes and real outcomes.

So future success exists in our mind before it becomes real. The same applies to failure.

We have to learn to put the same energy and thought into imagining a positive outcome that we currently do into imagining a negative one.

We need to learn how to ‘worry’ about success by thinking about it all the time – rather than worrying about failurePsycho-cybernetics.

The truth is fear, worry, anxiety and lack of confidence exist in our imagination of the future. They are not real events based on fact.

So the secret is to spend time focusing our minds on the positive outcome. In Psycho-cybernetics, Maltz suggests that the way to do this is by setting aside time to run Mental Movies where you actively picture a positive outcome.

Instead of focusing your attention on worrying about what might go wrong, take time to actively picture what it will be like getting the outcome you want.

Picture the outcome you want happening consistently – whether it’s applause at the end of a presentation, getting the order from a sales call, getting compliments for your work or winning that tennis match.

You have to make it exist in your mind before you bring it into reality.

The key to success in any area of life is learning to run positive mental movies.

Obviously some of these ideas appear in other books. But what I like about this one is that it seems to cover every angle, it is based on real case studies from Maltz’s time as a surgeon working on people’s physical scars, and it provides specific actions you can follow to apply his recommendations.

Incidentally I particularly recommend the updated version edited by Dan Kennedy.


Why Failure is the Most Important Factor in Success

It can be frustrating and costly when things don’t go the way you want them to.

Because, when you set out to do something, there’s no guarantee that the result you’ll get is the result that you want.

However, you will always get a result or outcome of some kind.

So, when you’re not getting the response that you want, the important thing to recognize is that you need to do something differently.

It’s amazing how often people keep doing the same thing, even when it doesn’t give them what they want.

But equally you’ll never know what you need to do differently until you try doing something.

If you want to be a top performer, you’ve got to take every opportunity to get feedback from others and adapt what you’re doing according to that feedback.

So one of the most important beliefs you can have is that ‘there is no such thing as failure’.

There is always something to learn from whatever outcome you get.  Many of the great achievements and discoveries in history have happened because the people behind them were willing to get it wrong many times before they finally got it right.

One of the best-known examples of this is the commitment Thomas Edison put into making the electric light bulb viable. He didn’t actually invent it but his work did make commercial production possible.

Of the months he spent trying ideas that didn’t work he said:

“I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Edison’s attitude was each of these attempts was a necessary step on the way to getting what he wanted. A lesser person would have given up but he believed in what he was doing and kept on responding to the feedback he was getting until he finally got his desired result.

That’s the kind of attitude you need in order to be successful in business.

Successful business people listen carefully to the response they are getting all the time and then alightbulbdapt what they are doing to ensure they get a different result.  It is not for nothing that they say ‘feedback is the breakfast of champions.’

You should never think, “I failed.” When you get a different result to what you wanted, you should think, “Great, I’ve learned something new! What can I do to make progress?”

The power of feedback
In business, another way to look at feedback is as a testing mechanism.  Even when you feel that a communication has been successful, you should consider whether another approach might have been even more successful.

In fact, if you are considering making any sort of major change or investment, it is essential to get this kind of feedback before you commit yourself to it too deeply.

Feedback only works, however, if you look for it.  In face-to-face communication, for example, that means you not only have to listen to what people say but you have to carefully watch their body language and facial expressions.

Arguably listening is the most overlooked skill in communication.  The old adage that we have two eyes, two ears and one mouth and that we should use them in that proportion has a great deal to commend it.  Yet so many people are inclined to speak first.

In his autobiography, Benjamin Franklin comments:

“In conversation, knowledge is obtained rather by the use of the ears than of the tongue”

His success in a wide range of fields from electricity to publishing and politics suggests he knew a thing or two about knowledge.

Overall, the more willing you are to adapt what you are doing in response to feedback – the greater chance you have of success.

The key point is that when you accept there is no such thing as failure, it removes the excuse for procrastination and perfectionism, which hold many people back from action.

So, to move faster towards the success that you want, consider these two questions:

  • What one thing can you do in the next 24 hours to move you closer to the goal you want?
  • How will you know whether it was successful or if you need to do something different?

The Surprising Reason You Always Get What You Want

Perhaps it’s surprising but the truth is that, whenever you set out to do something, you’ll almost always get what you want…

You will always end up with one of two things:

  1. The result you wanted.
  2. An excuse for why you haven’t got it.

On Top of the WorldPeople who come up with reasons or excuses for something not happening usually see themselves as not having any control over the outcome.

They always have a reason why they are not as successful as they want to be…

  • ‘I just need to finish off my brochure, my book, my website.’
  • ‘I’m not a natural salesperson.’
  • ‘I don’t have enough time.’
  • ‘There’s too much competition.’

Successful people on the other hand accept responsibility for whatever situation they are in and seek to change it.

The truth is that, in most situations in life, you can either choose to be ‘at cause’ or ‘at effect’.

  • If you are ‘in command’ of the situation – either because you make it happen, or at least you take responsibility for your view of what happens – you’re ‘at cause’.
  • If things ‘happen’ to you or you feel at the mercy of events, you’re ‘at effect’.

If you want to be successful, you need to be ‘at cause’ for everything that happens. That’s the best way you’ll get results.

It’s only by realizing that you are in control of everything that happens in your life (or at least your reaction to what happens) that you get the results you want to achieve.

Most people choose to live their lives getting more of one than the other.

The decision you need to make is whether to be one of the people who gets results or one who has many excuses for not getting them.

The good news is that whichever one you choose, you will be right – as you will always get what you want:

  • If you choose excuses, you’ll be able to say ‘I told you so.’
  • If you choose results, you will get them one way or the other.

The reality is that most people prefer excuses.

So, if you’re not getting the results you want, and you hear yourself coming up with excuses or reasons, try the following process to get yourself ‘at cause’:

  • Write down your ‘reasons’ or ‘excuses’ for not being where you want to be.
  • Look at each of these reasons from an attitude of being ‘at cause’, so that you’re taking 100% responsibility for them.
  • Challenge your reasons. What can you do differently to get results?

If you focus on getting results, you will believe in your own power to change things.  People who are successful act as though they don’t believe the excuses.  They believe in their own power to make a difference.

If you believe in results, you realize that you have the power to make a difference.

So, if you’re not getting the results that you want, it’s time to let go of your excuses and start getting what you really want.

Limiting Beliefs and How to Change Them

There’s a little known secret that would help many more people achieve the success they are capable of.

That secret is that it’s possible to change your beliefs.

You may wonder why you would want to. They’re just thoughts after all, right?

Yes, beliefs are indeed thoughts, but they often determine our actions and reactions – and they have the power to hold us back from doing what will make us happy.

For example, if you have a belief that you don’t deserve to be successful, this could lead you to unconsciously sabotage any plans you make to improve your situation.

Or it could cause you to not try at all because you believe it would be a waste of your time and energy.

mindPerhaps a parental figure passed this ‘gem’ on to you, and you simply believe it without question. What might this type of belief do?

  • First, you may find yourself resisting any opportunities that come your way simply because you don’t believe that good things will happen to you.
  • You might also feel inclined to refuse any offers of help that come to you from other people, even if you really want help.
  • You might even go so far as to unconsciously create obstacles and difficulties along the way, just to ‘prove’ to yourself that your beliefs are true.

This may sound far-fetched, but the mind works in mysterious ways!

It’s amazing how easily we can trick ourselves into believing something, and how fiercely we will defend our beliefs when they are challenged – even by ourselves.

How do you know if you have unconscious beliefs that might be holding you back?

One simple way to find out is to grab a sheet of paper and a pen, and start writing statements like these:

  • ‘I deserve to be successful and happy.’
  • ‘I find it easy to make substantial amounts of money.’
  • ‘I encounter opportunities wherever I go.’
  • ‘I am ready to tackle any challenges that I may face.’
  • ‘I believe in my ability to create the success I desire.’

Then take a look at what you wrote and as you read each statement, pay attention to how you feel inside.

If any statement conflicts with one of your existing beliefs, you will feel a twinge of guilt or fear inside. It may be subtle, but if you pay close enough attention you will feel it.

Those are the beliefs you need to work on changing if you want to make any progress.

How do you change existing beliefs? You replace them with more empowering beliefs.

Let’s use this statement as an example: ‘I am ready to tackle any challenges that I may face.’

If, when you read that statement to yourself, you feel uneasiness or dread, then you know you have a doubt about your ability to handle challenges.

Your job is now to convince yourself that you DO have the ability to handle challenges.

Think back to any challenges you have faced in your lifetime. How did you handle them? Did you buckle down and do what needed to be done, or did you cave under the pressure?

If you can recall even one challenge that you were able to handle and overcome, you have solid footing to change your belief!

You simply need to keep convincing yourself that if you handled one challenge successfully, you can handle others. The more frequently and passionately you can reinforce this concept in your mind, the more quickly your underlying belief will change.

Most often, we are capable of much more than we give ourselves credit for. You won’t know until you try.

After you handle even one small challenge, you will feel your confidence growing and you’ll be eager to take on more.

Remember that changing your beliefs is a process but if you keep at it, it won’t be long before you start to notice a big change in your attitude. And like so many other things in life, the more you practice the technique, the better you’ll get at it.

How to Stop Self-Sabotage Getting In the Way of What You Want

Have you ever done something that caused big problems for you and seemed to be in direct opposition to what you thought you wanted?

Like consistently shown up late for work even though your boss warned that you were treading on thin ice?

Or perhaps eating junk food even though you were trying to lose weight and get in shape?

worriedWhy do we do these things? You would think that setting a goal and creating a plan would be enough to get us where we want to go, right? Not necessarily.

There are many possible reasons why we ‘sabotage’ our own success but they most often involve a fear or an ingrained habit.

Take a look at these behaviors and ask yourself whether they have ever derailed your plans:

If you’ve ever found yourself holding back on doing something even though you kept telling yourself you really wanted to do it, you were procrastinating.

Maybe you felt drawn to watch endless hours of television or felt compelled to suddenly clean out your basement so you wouldn’t have to work on your goals.

Believe it or not, procrastination usually has little to do with laziness and more to do with avoidance. Most often, you are trying to avoid an underlying fear or resistance that you don’t feel ready to handle.

Another way we hold ourselves back is by waiting until we feel everything is just right before we take action. The problem is that this time never arrives or else, by the time we feel ready to do something, we’ve missed the opportunity. So we need to learn to identify the right time to take action so that we can make the progress we want.

Ingrained Habits
No matter how fired up you are about your goals, your old, ingrained habits can seem as solid as concrete. If we try to change those comfortable old routines, we feel nervous and out of place.

So, in order to become comfortable with new habits, we need to stick with them long enough so that they become second nature. It may need a bit of focus and willpower but eventually the new ways will become as solid as concrete too.

Learning to Recognize the Signs of Self-sabotage
The greatest gift you can give yourself is self-awareness. The unconscious nature of self-sabotage is what makes it so difficult to recognize. But with enough honest introspection, you will begin to understand yourself better.

When you do, you will be able to tell when you are working in opposition to your goals. You’ll be able to tell when you feel fearful and hesitant about stepping out of your comfort zones. You’ll recognize avoidance behaviors and take steps to turn them around immediately.

You may think it sounds too easy, but it really is simple.

You just have to be willing to pay attention, overcome fear and continue along the path to success – no matter what it takes.


The 5 Steps to Getting What You Want

You know, there’s a reason why only a handful of people manage to get what they want in life – while most of the rest really struggle.

It’s all about having the mindset for success.

Now I know that sounds like psychobabble but the truth is that making a few small changes to the way you think, how you work and the way you communicate with others can make a huge difference.

If you follow these five steps, you’ll be well on the way to creating the right mindset for success.

1. Set a Clear Outcome
If you go on a journey, the first thing you need to know is where you are headed. Yet, in life, most people don’t have a clear idea of where they want to go, so it’s not surprising that so many fail.

Without clarity you lack direction; it becomes hard to make decisions, and your results end up being average at best.

2. Take Action
While it’s important to aim high in setting your vision, it’s best to start with small steps. Too many people fail to get anywhere with their plans because they don’t take the crucial first step. That means you need to start by breaking your goals down into maller, more manageable actions.
3. Stay Focused on Your Goal
Studies suggest that your mind works on bringing into reality whatever you are focused on. It’s a bit like your mind having its own search engine which automatically picks up ideas and opportunities to help you get what you are thinking about. This works very well if your attention is all focused on what you want. But if you’re not clear what you want – or you spend your time thinking about what you don’t want – you’ll end up with unsatisfactory results.

4. Encourage and Respond to Feedback
When you’ve taken your first step, you’re going to get the most useful thing of all – feedback from others. Feedback won’t always be what you expect or what you want but it’s important to remember that, when you are moving towards your goals, there is no such thing as failure. Thomas Edison regarded every one of his thousands of ‘failed’ attempts to make the light bulb viable as being successful – because each one helped him move closer to his goal in some way.

5. Believe in Success
Whenever you set out to do something, you will always end up with one of two things:

  • The result you wanted.
  • An excuse for why you haven’t got it.

People who come up with reasons or excuses for something not happening usually see themselves as not having any control over the outcome. Successful people on the other hand accept responsibility for whatever situation they are in and seek to change it.

The choice you need to make is whether to be one of the people who gets results or one who has many excuses for not getting them. The good news is that whichever one you choose, you will be right – as you will always get what you want.