How to Talk Yourself to Success

OpinionPosted | Category: BRM Capability, BRM Community, Professional Development | Contributed

Emotional Intelligence - Internal Motivation

What would you attempt if you knew failure was impossible?

As human beings, to some degree, we’re all afraid to fail. In fact, failing to reach a goal or expectations can be such a scary prospect that we lose the internal motivation to try before we even begin.

Instead of being spent on creativity and stretching both our limits and comfort zone, our energy is spent on anxiety, worry, and fear.

According to Healthline, when in a constant state of stress or anxiety, our bodies respond with an increase in irritability, breathing problems, and in a growing number of national cases, depression.

On the other hand, when we respond to opportunities with positivity and motivation, our bodies release dopamine. The release of this prized chemical in the brain, known as the “reward drug”, naturally improves our mood, increases our focus, and boosts internal motivation.

Internal Motivation

Definition: The vision to pursue goals with energy and creativity.

Essentially, the concept is that internal motivation becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy leading to further motivation, while simultaneously minimizing anxiety and the worry of failure.

Luckily, as with the other four Emotional Intelligence Competencies, internal motivation can be trained and adopted by following the specific strategies below:

Strategy #1: Practice Positive Self-Talk

Consider this. Two people wake up in the morning, shower, brush their teeth, and look in the mirror.
One person tells themselves, groggily, “Here comes another long, exhausting, difficult day.”

Whereas, the other person tells themselves, confidently, “Today is going to be full of opportunity, challenge, and growth.”

The first person already set up their day with expectations of failure and negativity.

Alternatively, the second person used positive self-talk to set up their day as an opportunity to succeed and enjoy themselves. This approach may sound corny but when practiced, it releases dopamine and establishes a habit of positivity and confidence for the day.

This example highlights that one of the most important, and happiness-inducing, things we can do to increase internal motivation is to engage in positive self-talk.

Putting it Into Practice

Here are a few tips you can try to practice more positive self-talk and empower your thoughts:

  1. Change your inner monologue. As Mahatma Gandhi famously taught, your inner thoughts become your words, which become your behavior, which become your habits. Regrettably, if your thoughts are negative, they will trickle down to create bad habits. However, by changing one simple word,
    can’t to CAN,
    we win the internal motivation battle every time.
  2. Take a positive action step when you face a setback. When things go wrong, avoid criticizing yourself and worrying. For example, when you are late for work, tell yourself,
    “It’s okay. I can’t change that I will be late, and I am still a good person.”
    Then, take it one step further with an action step, such as:
    1. Texting your boss to adjust their expectations
    2. Smiling, and telling a loved one that you appreciate them before arriving to work.
    3. Breathing.
  3. Say three positive things to yourself daily. Just like the second person in the prior example, look into the mirror and compliment yourself on your accomplishments, abilities, behavior, and appearance.
    Even if it’s as simple as “I like the way my hair looks this morning,” those little positive affirmations create a habit of positive self-talk.

Strategy #2: Treat Failure as an Opportunity to Learn

Even though we are all afraid of failure, some of the most inspirational leaders in history, from Thomas Edison to Michael Jordan, have taught us the value in embracing failure, rather than turning away from it. In fact, they recognize that by treating each potential failure as a learning opportunity, we can grow from every situation we’re faced with.

Either we succeed and achieve a goal of ours,


We fail, learn something from it, and apply it moving forward.

Both outcomes are favorable, as long as we try.

There is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.

~Oprah Winfrey

Try the simple exercise below to practice facing failure with a learning mentality, rather than a fear mentality.

Putting it Into Practice

Whether it’s dancing like nobody’s watching at your desk, pitching an out-of-the-box idea to a boss, or appreciating a coworker with a totally unexpected kind gesture…
Do something that scares you every day.
Fear makes us feel alive. Feeling alive gives meaning and value to our actions every day.

Moreover, by facing our fears, we become more comfortable with the fear and recognize that it can be used to drive action. Ultimately, fear of failure becomes an internal motivator rather than a roadblock to creative ideas and inspiration.

If you enjoyed this article on Internal Motivation…

Join us at BRMConnect in New Orleans this October! This year we’ll be learning how some of the biggest organizations in the world are engaging Emotional Intelligence to drive success!

In this Emotional Intelligence (EQ) series, we break down the 5 competencies of Emotional Intelligence, along with two strategies for developing each competency, and specific exercises/applications you can practice daily to increase your EQ.

Check out how practicing the EQ competency of social skills drives success in any relationship and empowers your leadership potential.

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