The Language of Success

“Your brain believes what you tell it.”—David Emerald and Donna Zajonc

These words popped out at me as I read the weekly TED Works! missive. (David is the author of The Power of TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic)).

It struck me that this is the reason so many are stuck trying to move their business forward with outdated and failing ideas. They have spent so much time telling their brain that these things will work that they come to believe it in spite of evidence to the contrary.

One particular example of this dynamic came to mind. Some time ago, I was trying to advise the fifth-generation owner and CEO of what at the time was one of the oldest continuously operating manufacturing businesses in New Jersey. Over the years, his family predecessors as CEO had continually changed course and evolved the business as conditions and technology changed.

Four generations of great success and now failure loomed.

In spite of my efforts, the efforts of a new president, the efforts of a turnaround expert, and the results of financial and other data he reviewed regularly, the owner was unwilling to accept that new methods and products were required if the company was going to reach generation six. Working harder at what they were already doing would only suffice to fix their small problems but not do anything to address the reality that their market had drastically changed.

Suffice it to say, the company didn’t survive generation five. And now I have a more succinct explanation for what was going on in the owner’s brain…

Emerald and Zajonc describe how your nervous system produces chemicals that match what you tell yourself. And with the release of these chemicals “the substance of your physical body changes.” In other words, what you tell yourself leads to corresponding physical changes in your body which control how you think.

The language you use and the stories you tell yourself have great power over how you act. And how you act has great power over all those around you, whether you are their leader or their peer. It effects your customers, and anyone else you deal with.

And the more you tell yourself the same things, the more it reinforces what your brain has come to believe.

The more your language strengthens dysfunctional ideas and fear of change the more difficulty you will have reaching great success. But the more your language strengthens positive ideas and encourages you to change in useful ways, the more likely it is that you’ll move forward successfully.

Notice your language. Is it filled with words and concepts that hold you back or guide you forward? Ask others how your language makes them feel…like things are not so good or like there’s great opportunity in front of you and them?

Work to decrease the words holding you back and spreading a message of defeat. Work to increase the words guiding you forward and spreading a message of success.

Don’t let your words guide your brain into driving you to diminished results or failure. Fill your brain with the language…and chemicals…of success.

Don’t end up like my old client.











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