Reversing the Senses

07/16/2014 03:03 pm ET | Updated Sep 15, 2014

It's one of life's great ironies that many high achievers are unhappy and unfulfilled. Their ambition and drive has taken them to places at which few ever arrive. Yet it's also that drive which leaves them perpetually dissatisfied, never pausing to enjoy the fruits of their labor or savor the essential moments in life. Instead, they continue an unfulfilling and unending pursuit of the next big thing. For high achievers, successes cannot live up to their lofty anticipation of "true success" or satisfy their ultimate ambitions to achieve "greatness." In many situations, they are all but blind to the good already in their life, focusing instead on negatives and shortcomings.

As a result, high achievers often put tremendous pressure on themselves and are even reluctant or unwilling to accept praise or recognition for their achievements. Haunted by a personal conviction that they are destined to fail, obsessing over the inadequacies in their lives and in those around them, yet driven by an overwhelming desire to achieve greatness, they have no time to truly live life. High achievers are consumed by visions of the future, while in the present, negative perceptions of the world and themselves control their thoughts and actions.

In my own life, I've found that no amount of money or worldly acclaim can compensate for a deep and abiding sense of internal harmony--the irreplaceable feeling that comes from knowing you're on the right track. Doing the right things for the right reasons and being the best you can.

I've also discovered that all too often we "fish in the wrong ponds" in our quest to achieve more. We read business and leadership books looking for tips and strategies--things we can do, actions we can take. We believe we can get to the next level by revamping our business model, revolutionizing our marketing strategies, reaching the right people, getting access to more capital, etc. The truth is that while all these things may be useful, they are not keys that unlock new levels. They are not true solutions for the real issues we face.

What I call your "internal capacity" can have a similar effect on your life. It can propel you to levels of success and achievement that previously have been beyond your reach. Developing your internal capacity transforms your hard work into more effective and efficient use of time that enables you to break through limitations. It provides internal peace and confidence so you make better decisions and influence others more effectively.

Internal capacity is the ability to manage and leverage your inner world of thoughts and feelings, and to reverse your senses, when necessary. It is your conscious ability to quiet the mind and create harmony within. A person with high internal capacity can maintain positive, optimistic, fearless, and courageous thoughts in the face of challenges and setbacks. He or she has the ability to understand, reason with, and control emotions. He or she has the instinctive ability to handle complex and difficult situations.

In short, internal capacity is your ability to think and see clearly, maintain positive or optimistic thoughts, and make wise decisions while feeling calm, peaceful, and confident regardless of what is happening in your external world.

Developing your internal capacity starts when one stops asking the question "What should I do?", and instead asks, "How should I think and be?" The rubber hits the road when you stop looking for answers outside yourself and begin looking for the answers inside yourself.

With that in mind, let me offer 5 Core Principles that will aid you in reversing your sense and setting you up for real success:

Your Thoughts Determine Your Ultimate Results - We constantly hear advice on controlling our thoughts. But the truth is that most of our thoughts come unbidden, and there's really not much we can do about that. What we can do, however, is choose which thoughts we give attention to, which ones we feed and which ones we starve. We can give productive thoughts a channel, while shutting down unproductive ones. The thoughts we entertain and focus on grow.

Your Emotions Influence Your Thoughts, and Vice Versa - Our thoughts influence our emotions, and vice versa. To truly achieve internal harmony, we must understand and manage both. And in order to do this, we must engage in the practice of reversing our senses.

Most Thoughts and Emotions are Subconscious: Awareness is the First Step of Change - Through cognitive neuroscience, we now know why this advice is so hard to apply. We can't change what we don't know. And nowhere is this more true than our subconscious brain, from which springs thoughts, emotions, and actions that we're not even aware of.

True Success is Internal Harmony - The first step is to redefine success. Money, cars, a thriving business, vacations, a front row parking space--these are merely byproducts of success. They are evidence of achievement, but they are not success itself. True success is internal harmony--feeling comfortable in your own skin.

Managing Your Thoughts and Emotions Increases Your Capacity to Lead and Achieve - To know what to do, we must first see clearly. And we can't see clearly if our minds are cluttered with random thoughts, buzzing with frustration, bogged down by doubt and worry. When we consistently take time for quiet personal reflection, all that junk drifts away and we enter an intuitive state where the most important things are clear. We know what to do. We can act with confidence and power.

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