How to prime your brain to expect success

© 2009, Doug Davin and Diana Morris
[Featured Breakthrough Skill— High Possibility Thinking: Set great expectations]

Two people begin separate consulting practices. Each loses a critical contract. The first consultant takes her former client to lunch to find out why, gets good information about steps she can take to make her business more successful in the future, and actually ends up building a stronger bridge to the client who is impressed by her genuine concern about his company and interest in his ideas. The client eventually sends her future business, including referrals to his colleagues. The second blames the loss on poor chemistry and lives with that supposition, never bothering to uncover the real reason. Long term, who succeeds? Who founders?

Two people are scheduled to interview for a highly desirable position. One plans the interview, researching the position and the company, finding out about the principals of the firm and the markets in which it competes, and arrives at the interview early, feeling fresh, positive, and prepared for an enjoyable conversation. The other decides chances are slim he’s going to get the job, so he may as well just “wing it.” The questions will be the standard ones anyway. After all, job interviews are all the same. Who gets called back and who doesn’t?

Two people receive average ratings on their performance reviews. One accepts the feedback as valuable advice and uses it constructively to set new goals and improve his job performance. The other resents receiving the same feedback after working hard all year, views it as negative, is discouraged and demotivated, and shares his frustration with everyone who’ll listen. Who succeeds? Who stagnates?

You know the ending
It’s so interesting that in each case, we can easily complete the story. We know what happens to the woman who believes she lost the client because of poor chemistry. She finds everything a struggle. Clients come and go, and while her business survives, it doesn’t thrive, and there is little joy in her work. We can also guess what happens to the person who doesn’t prepare for the job interview, and the employee who is demotivated by a poor performance review.

We also know what happens to their positive counterparts. The business owner moves effortlessly from client to client, relationships are built and doors open easily, she expands her business, which she finds fulfilling, and people enjoy working with and for her. The person who prepares for the job interview probably does get called back. The employee with the average review overlooks his embarrassment and discomfort, stands up, dusts himself off, and armed with good information about his improvement opportunities, begins to press on to better experiences and rewards.

Look for a common theme in these stories, and for that matter, in the lives of all highly successful people: their minds are always working. In fact, they never stop thinking, asking future-focused questions that anticipate success and lead to positive action:

• “What if I took the client to lunch and asked why she fired me?”

• “How can I be over-prepared for this job interview?”

• “Now that I know what’s expected of me, what steps can I take to make the most of this feedback to improve my performance in the coming year?”

Activate your success
Here are some sentence stems and questions to help you keep thinking:

• “Something I’ve seen work well in a similar situation that I’d like to try here is ______________________.”

• “I need to get more information and insight in this situation. Who can I talk to?”

• “What resources (colleagues, books, classes...) are available to help me through this situation?”

• “What steps could I take right away to set a positive result in motion?”

Learn more in our book, Step Out of the Box With a Bang! The Positive, Proactive, and Excuse-free Work Life. Get your copy at

Author's Bio: 

Doug Davin and Diana Morris are authors and coaches at, a professional self-improvement community and webstore. Their original resources—Rapid-Read™ Handbooks and Workbooks, free BTS QuickTools?, Breakthrough Coaching, Workshops, and Telesession calls—zero-in on seven Breakthrough Skills you need to reach the highest levels of success and enjoy your work—every day.

“You know you’ve got a great future ahead of you. We know it too, and we’re serious about helping you. Contact us at or call toll-free: 1-877-512-3400.” Also visit their site at

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