Future-Positive-Commitments!



This past week, Jenn and I were taking a team of 36 executives through our The Leader's Mindset session, highlighted by our Thinking Tendencies Model. If you have been following our blogposts, e-newsletters or received our leadership training you will know that the Future-Positive-Focus is one of six very powerful mindsets that impact our thinking, energy, and actions.


As I introduced the team to this Future-Positive / Future-Negative concept and how we can recognize this language, one gentleman in the group commented, “Mindset and language is not enough, Ryan. Action ultimately creates success.”


Naturally, I totally agreed with my friend and honoured him by suggesting that we wanted to start the training session by diving deeper… to better understand what undergirds the consistent behaviours that deliver our ultimate success. I shared Mark Sanborn’s quote that beautifully articulates this key concept: “Culture is what we think and believe, which then determines what we do and what we accomplish.”



However, my friend Paul got me thinking about how many of us have Future-Positive desires, goals and dreams, but, as Erma Bombeck suggests below, never “take them out of the box.”


“There are people who put their dreams in a little box and say, ‘Yes, I've got dreams, of course I've got dreams.' Then they put the box away and bring it out once in awhile to look in it, and yep, they're still there. These are great dreams, but they never even get out of the box. It takes an uncommon amount of guts to put your dreams on the line, to hold them up and say, ‘How good or how bad am I?’ That's where courage comes in.”


The grandfather of personal development, Earl Nightingale, used a simplified metaphor to encourage us to act towards our Future-Positive-Commitments:

“Have you ever noticed that ships operate essentially the same way people ought to, but so few do? Maybe you've never given it much thought, but at any given moment, a ship has a direction and a destination. That is, either she's sailing to a predetermined port of call, or she's in port, getting ready to sail to another one. You can ask the captain of any big, far-sailing ship where they're going, and they can tell you instantly – and in one sentence.

There's another analogy that fits here, and maybe it makes the most important point of all. If a ship tied to a dock for some reason had no place to go, she would stay there until she fell apart from rust and disuse. A ship's engine isn't started until she has some place to go. Here again, it's the same with people. This is why it's so important that each of us has a port of call we want to reach – a goal – a place to get to where we feel will be better than the place in which we now find ourselves. If we don't, we might never cast off. We might never start our engines and know the thrill of sailing a charted course to a place we can't see for fully 99 percent of the journey. But we know it's there, and we know that if we keep sailing toward it, we'll reach it.”

Nightingale articulates what most of us already know but struggle to put into practice: does everything that we do and think align with getting us to our next port? That’s our point, isn’t it? Dreams and commitments are critical, but then courage must be mustered to actually cast off the line.


Brian Kight has an interesting slant on this idea:


“People can’t measure intentions.

Good intentions are an excellent start and a terrible excuse. Intentions are a private, internal choice. No one else really knows. No one else really cares. Only you know. When there is misalignment between your intentions and what people experience, the impact of your behavior says more than the quality of your intentions.

People know what you say, what you do, and how it makes them feel. They care about the experience you deliver, the value you provide, and the impact it has.

Nothing replaces quality execution, refined skill, and committed resolve. Set your intentions to that standard and align your behavior to match. Discipline is the shortcut. Do the work.”

According to clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Dr. Ari Kiev, "In my practice as a psychiatrist, I have found that helping people to develop personal goals has proven to be the most effective way to help them cope with problems. Observing the lives of people who have mastered adversity, I have noticed that they have established goals and sought with all their effort to achieve them. From the moment they decided to concentrate all their energies on a specific objective, they began to surmount the most difficult odds."

You and I have noticed two common reminders from these writers:


1- Dreams, commitments, or what we define as Future-Positive-Focus… are critical


2- Massive Action in order to fulfill these goals must get initiated through courage


What helps us accomplish number 2? Something that science calls an Implementation Intention!


Researchers found that people who filled out this sentence: ‘During the next week, I will partake in at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise on [DAY] at [TIME OF DAY] at/in [PLACE],’ were 2 to 3X more able to take action compared to a control group who did not make plans for their future behavior.


James Clear researched this concept and found that Psychologists call these specific plans “implementation intentions” because they state when, where, and how you intend to implement a particular behavior. This finding has been repeated across hundreds of studies and has been found to increase the odds that people will start exercising, begin recycling, stick with studying, and even stop smoking.”


  • Future-Positive-Focus commits our direction,

  • Courage initiates action towards our dreams and goals,

  • implementation intentions organize/inspire our action plans…

Enjoy accomplishing your dreams this week!


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