Redesign Your Thinking

What Are Your Set Points?

A thermostat is designed to establish a temperature set point. If you desire the room to be at a comfortable 20°C (68°F), and the room heats up to 26°C the thermostat will kick in the air conditioning and regulate the room temperature to 20°C again. If the room temperature drops below the desired temperature then the thermostat would trigger the furnace to reheat the room back to the desired set point. But you already knew that. thermostat

What you might not know is that King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, said that your heart is a type of thermostat over your life. He said in Proverbs 23:7 says, "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he." He's not referring to your physical organ, but instead is using the heart as a metaphor for your sub-conscience thinking. He is boldly stating that your heart determines your life's set-points.

Maybe this is why Solomon wrote in Proverbs 4:23, "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." When the wisest man who ever lived says "Above all else," I pay attention. Plainly put, this verse is Solomon telling us that the most important thing we could do in life is to watch over our "heart" thinking. Why? Because your heart will determine everything you do in the future, good or bad.

In the original Hebrew language Solomon used the words totz'ot chaiyim which means the "issues" of life. The word totz'ot is mainly used to refer to the borders of territories or the boundaries of a city. This verse is literally saying that the heart of a person will build boundaries, or set-points in your life.

The state of your life right now was birthed from your heart thinking. The amount of money you make per year will be close to what your heart thinks you deserve or expect to earn. The state of your marriage or relationships can all be determined by your sub-conscience "heart" thoughts. The amount of success or failures you have, all flow from your heart. What your heart expects, your life gets. Albert Einstein once said, "Your imaginations are a preview of your life's coming attractions." In other words, how you think, how you dream, is very important.

Have you ever been turned down from something you really wanted and said to someone, "I knew I wouldn't get it anyway." Or, "I knew it was too good to be true?" Of course you have. We all have. And you know what? We were right. Because no matter how badly we want something in our conscience mind, if our heart thinks another way, our heart is right every time.

The question then is, how do we "guard our heart?" How do we change our heart thinking? I believe there is a way. The Bible never tells us to do something that is impossible to do. It always gives us the answer. I want to spend the next number of weeks blogging on this topic, hoping to uncover answers for you and for me, so that we can direct our futures and change our heart thinking.

Solomon said this in Proverbs 20:5, "The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out." Plainly put, you can't see what's beneath the surface in your heart unless you dive in and search it out. So, I encourage you to go digging by asking yourself, "What are my set points? What do I imagine my future will look like? What does my heart really think?"

Mentally Strong Leaders Cliff Jump

Dr. Daniel Goleman states that the higher a leader rises in an organization, the less important technical skills become, and the more important EQ becomes. “EQ counts for 80-90% of the factors that distinguish average from outstanding leaders.” Christopher Columbus

Mentally strong people avoid giving up after failure. 

The only way to guarantee failure is to quit. This is not about a stubborn refusal to hold onto something that is no longer effective but a fierce desire to succeed despite obstacles and set backs. Realign your thinking to see every failure as a chance to improve.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you willing to fail again and again as long as that failure brings you closer to your ultimate goal?
  • Is this a mission failure or a method failure? Never give up on your mission, but methods need constant adjustments.
  • What is the best way to...?

Remember the moment you say, “I give up,” someone else is seeing the same situation and saying, “My, what a great opportunity.”

Mentally strong people avoid shying away from change.

They embrace change and welcome challenges. It energizes them and brings out their best. Their biggest fear is not of the unknown but becoming stagnant and complacent.

Leaders are constantly challenged to:

  • Fight personal complacency. It is the last hurdle to greatness. It is the “success disease”.
  • When helping others change ask these 3 questions:
    1. Is it worth it? If not, why waste their effort?
    2. Will they do it? If not, why waste your effort?
    3. Can they do it? If they can’t, why waste both your efforts?

Mentally strong people avoid fearing taking calculated risks.

I’m not talking about jumping into foolish risk. This is about weighing the upsides vs. the downsides. Is there anything siting in front of you that scares you to death? There should be.

“the greatest risk of all is a life of riskless living” ~Dr. George Hill

How to get comfortable being uncomfortable:

  • Take the most difficult and important risk - be honest with yourself. “Show me a guy who is afraid of looking bad and I will show you a guy who can be beat every single time!”  If you aren’t making mistakes you are not taking enough risks.
  • Desire learning more than winning or losing. If you look at something you did a year ago and are still impressed by what you did it means you aren’t growing. Complacency is the enemy.
  • Be controlled by your dream, not your emotions.
  • Risk taking is a developed skill. You won't know how far you can go until you try.

Where did you push through a failure with surprising results?

Mentally Strong Leaders Aren't Afraid of the Dark

According to Dr. Daniel Goleman the higher a leader rises in an organization, the less important technical skills become, and the more important emotional intelligence or EQ becomes.  He claims “EQ counts for 80-90% of the factors that distinguish average from outstanding leaders.” tired

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Francois de Halleux

Technical skills are easy to identify and therefore easier to develop in others. Emotional skills are often hidden and therefore substantially more difficult to specifically identify and deal with. Here are 3 common characteristics of mentally strong leaders:

Mentally strong people avoid worrying about pleasing others.

“Do not become too concerned about what others may think of you. Be very concerned about what you think of yourself!" ~John Wooden

Realize that you can’t please everyone. There are times when you will need to speak up even at the risk of offending or hurting others.

“He who has no opinion of his own, but depends on the opinions of others is a slave. To only dream of the person you are supposed to be is to waste the person you are.” Friedrich Klopstock.

How to overcome people pleasing:

  1. Realistically see the people you are trying to please. Write down their names and ask yourself why are you trying to please them? Just like David in the Bible, you will either fight your giant or your critics. Trying to please people will distract you from slaying your giant.
  2. Consistently go to the people you want to be like. You will become like the 5 people closest to you. Do you have the right people around you?
  3. Visually look at the person you want to be.
  4. Persistently reject the pull of the people you once pleased. "The opposite of courage is not fear. It is conformity. The most exhausting and frustrating thing in life is to live it trying to be someone else.” ~John Maxwell.

Mentally strong people avoid resenting other people’s successes.

The moment you feel jealousy towards someone you lose your ability to learn from them.

“Jealousy is the tribute mediocrity pays to achievers” ~John Maxwell.

Mentally strong people avoid fearing alone time.

This is usually harder for extroverts than it is introverts but learn to treasure the time alone. Use it to reflect, plan, and be productive.

Levels of loneliness:

  1. The loneliness of self-pity.  We wallow in our problems or what we don’t have.
  2. The loneliness of not being comfortable with yourself. “You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with.” ~Wayne Dyer
  3. The loneliness of poor self-image. “Public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion, what a man thinks of himself, that is which determines, or rather indicates his fate.” ~Henry David Thoreau. 
  4. The loneliness of winning. Remember the higher you go in leadership the fewer people you can take with you.
  5. The loneliness of aloneness.

What do you do when you are alone to reflect, plan and be productive?

Mentally Strong Leaders Refuse Unrealistic Expectations

According to emotional intelligence (EQ) studies by Dr. Daniel Goleman the higher a leader rises in an organization, the less important technical skills become, and the more important EQ becomes. Leaders who do not develop their emotional intelligence have difficulty becoming a 360º  leader. They struggle with building good relationships with peers, subordinates and their superiors. In fact “EQ counts for 80-90% of the factors that distinguish average from outstanding leaders.” This indicates that in order for you to move from good to great you need to grow your emotionally capacity.

6059832534_04e9456b65_z photo courtesy of Cali Lesson Illustrations on

Mentally strong people avoid expecting immediate results.

We need to understand that there is a difference between an immediate response (your direction) and immediate results (your destination). Do not confuse the two.

We live in a society that wants immediate results. Instant meals, instant credit, instant results. However, instant often bypasses the good for the now. Successful leaders understand that they are in it for the long haul. They apply their energy and time in increments so that they have staying power to accomplish the task. They realize that genuine change takes time.

“Waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting.” (Romans 8:22-25 MSG)

Mentally strong leaders understand they can change their direction overnight, but they cannot change their destination overnight.

Mentally strong people avoid feeling the world owes them something.

A sense of entitlement is a sure sign of mental weakness.

“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living; the world owes you nothing; it was here first.” ~Mark Twain

Arguments about ‘paying my dues’ or ‘I’ve been here the longest it belongs to me’ take away your power to change and grow.  Mentally strong people understand that in order to continually succeed they must be prepared to continually work hard.

Mentally strong people avoid giving away their power. 

They realize they are in control of their emotions and refuse to allow others to make them feel inferior. They choose how they respond to any given situation, even those outside their control and whether they change in response to it.

Be aware when your emotions begin to control you rather than you control them. When you start losing the power over your own emotions it is an indication that you need to recharge/recreate to avoid becoming a mentally weak leader.

What are you going to do today to begin developing your Emotional Intelligence?

Mentally Strong Leaders Don't Walk Backward (Pt 1)   Recommended reading: 177 Mentally Tough secrets of the Greats by Steve Sebold

Mentally Strong Leaders Don’t Walk Backwards.

We’ve all met them. Kids who did so poor in school they were lucky to graduate but now are at the top in the business world. Or the co-worker who is absolutely brilliant but stuck in an entry level position blaming his boss for not recognizing his true potential. Why does one succeed where another fails? What distinguishes average leaders from outstanding leaders? (image courtesy of

Dr. Daniel Goleman, an internationally know psychologist and science journalist, asserts that emotional intelligence (defined as the capability to be self-aware, self-managing, interpersonally effective, stress tolerant, and optimistic) counts for 80-90% of the factors that distinguish average from outstanding leaders. His research indicates that the higher a leader rises in an organization, the less important technical skills become, and the more important EQ becomes.

This is a clear indication that in order to move from good to great we need to grow our emotional capacity.

Mentally strong people avoid wasting energy on things they can’t control. “Complaining is like bad breath, you notice it when it comes out of somebody else’s mouth, but not your own.” ~Rev. Will Bowen. Outstanding leaders understand that in a bad situation the only thing you can control is your attitude and response.

Mentally strong people avoid dwelling on the past. Successful people learn from past successes and mistakes and continually strive to move forward, eliminating the temptation to allow the past to become an anchor holding them back from growing to meet the next challenge.

“A retentive memory may be a good thing but the ability to forget is the true token of greatness... Be a good forgetter. Business dictates it, and success demands it.” ~Elbert Hubbard.

Mentally strong people avoid wasting time feeling sorry for themselves.  You can’t moan and lead at the same time, so don’t dwell on your circumstances or what happened to you. Never waste a crisis. Understand that sometimes life is not fair, and be grateful for the lessons you have learned.

Mentally strong people avoid making the same mistake over and over. Research shows that the ability to be self reflective in an accurate and productive way is one of the greatest strengths of spectacularly successful executives and entrepreneurs.

How to avoid making the same mistake over and over:

  1. Reflect daily. “What happened in my world today?” “What could I have changed?” Past reflection can be good if it will affect future action.
  2. Be honest with yourself and take the excuses away. “What did I learn about myself today?” “Human nature seems to endow every person with the ability to size up everyone but himself” ~ John Maxwell.
  3. Self Talk. What what you are saying about yourself. “95% of your emotions are determined by the way you talk to yourself” ~Brian Tracy.
  4. Take action. “Does my reflection lead to action?”

What are you going to do today to begin developing your Emotional Intelligence?