“Just as a doctor learns to diagnose disease from certain symptoms, failure and success can also be diagnosed. . . A person does not simply find success or come to failure. He or she carries their seeds around in his personality and character.” Dr. Maxwell Maltz
In his 1960 groundbreaking book, Psycho Cybernetics, Dr. Maltz largely started the self-improvement movement, but his work was so much more than that. Writing in the early days of the computer age, he showed us how science and psychology were coming to understand how much like computers and servo-mechanisms the human brain and sub-conscious mind worked together to solve problems and accomplish goals.
Dr. Maltz points out that the subconscious mind is not a mind at all, but rather a mechanism, a goal-striving ‘servo-mechanism’ consisting of the brain and nervous system, which is used by and directed by the mind. He says “the most usable concept is that man does not have two “minds,” but a mind, or consciousness, that operates an automatic, goal-striving machine.” This ‘Creative Mechanism,’ as Dr. Maltz refers to it, is unique in humans, and works “automatically and impersonally to achieve goals of success and happiness, or unhappiness or failure, depending on the goals that you yourself set for it.” Catch that? You decide.
You Decide Your Success or Failure
We all have goals, and our brains and nervous systems are continually leading us in the direction of images we think about consciously, or images that are so much a part of us that we’re led toward them on autopilot. Our Creative Mechanism works on information and data that we feed into it (thoughts, beliefs, and interpretations.) Dr. Maltz says that he has found that the most effective means of helping people achieve a successful personality is to give them a graphic picture of what a successful personality looks like and then let the creative guidance system take over to seek that goal. His image is contained in the letters of the word SUCCESS itself.
- Sense of Direction: We are built to conquer the environment, solve problems and achieve goals and find no real satisfaction without doing so. Maltz says we are like a bicycle, which maintains its poise and equilibrium only so long as it goes forward towards something.
- Understanding: Failures most often come from misunderstanding. Maltz says “no one reacts to things as they are, but to his own mental images.” We must separate facts from opinions. FACT: The stock market is volatile. OPINION: One should avoid the stock market because it is volatile.
- Courage: General R.E.Chambers, chief the Army’s Psychiatry and Neurology Consultant Division, said “most people don’t know how brave they really are. In fact, many potential heroes, both men and women, live out their lives in self-doubt.” You’ve got resources you may never know you have, if you don’t act.
- Compassion: “It is a psychological fact that our feelings about ourselves tend to correspond to our feelings about other people,” says Dr. Maltz. He adds, “One of the best known methods of getting over a feeling of guilt is to stop condemning other people in your mind, stop judging them, blaming them, and hating them for their mistakes. You will develop a better and more adequate self image when you begin to feel that other people are more worthy.”
- Esteem: A low opinion of ourselves is not a virtue, but a vice. “Why do men stand in awe of the stars, and the moon, and the immensity of the sea, . . . at the same time downgrade themselves? Did not the same Creator make man?” Dr. Maltz counsels that appreciation of our own worth is not egotism unless we assume that we made ourselves and take some of the credit.
- Self-Confidence: Confidence is built on experiences of success. Start gradually to experience success on a small scale. Form the habit of remembering past successes and forgetting past failures. Computers work the same way.
- Self-Acceptance: Don’t try to be anybody other than who you are. Dr. Maltz encourages us to accept who we are and to start from there, tolerating our imperfections. “Changing your self-image does not mean changing your self, or improving your self, but changing your own mental picture, your own estimation, conception, and realization of that self. . . Creating a better self-image does not create new abilities, talents, and powers – it releases them.”
Dr. Maltz makes it clear that we all have goals, but it is our degree of intentionality or lack of it that makes all the difference in our successes or failures. He encourages us to develop a “nostalgia for the future” rather than for the past. It can even keep us youthful, as he points out that “even our body doesn’t function well when we stop being goal-strivers and have nothing to look forward to.” Do you have a goal or goals in your plan with us to which you look forward with ‘nostalgia?’ If not, why not direct your ‘creative mechanism’ toward a project of adding a goal or goals that excite you. We would love to help.
“Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately so is losing.” Legendary football coach, Vince Lombardi