Archives for posts with tag: Self-fulfilling Prophecy

We’ve all heard the statistic that we use about 10% of our brain’s total capacity, the inference being that, to the precious few and perhaps some of us mere mortals too, additional unfathomable powers are at our fingertips, or rather at our synapses.

One of the first lessons I learned on those graduate work programs was the power of positive thinking and, specifically, the self-fulfilling prophecy. If you go into a situation with a certain frame of mind, then that’s the result you will probably end up getting. Go in thinking you will lose and you will, go in thinking you will win and you will. What is unsaid in all this is whether you can influence the actual outcome with the power of your thought. Perhaps we’re tapping into the 90% at that point?

I’ve always liked the idea of the self-fulfilling prophecy and I’ve used it myself, pretty successfully, before major events like sales meetings, prize-givings and so on. You can even use it for micro-events, like wanting to hit the treble twenty at darts or the outside corner with a tennis serve. If you imagine it clearly, and see it happening, it has a far better chance of happening. I’ve never found it works with gambling though…

The other day I was working away when an email pinged in with the results of a competitive bid process. My stomach did a small flip, as the bid was important to me. I relaxed, took 5 minutes to clear my other emails and then got to the award results email. I had a 1 in 4 chance of winning. Before I opened it I imagined reading the email awarding me the contract, and I even said the word ‘win’ a number of times in my head like a mantra.

I opened the email and found that I hadn’t won the contact. Just kidding! I had won, which was nice.

What is also interesting is that on the occasions when I have not been successful with the self-fulfilling prophecy, it’s because I have allowed doubt and negativity to intrude into my thoughts. Suspecting I might not have won was enough to poison the positive thinking.

Disclaimer: this does not mean you will win the lottery if you think positively as you buy the ticket or as each ball drops into the chute…


A funny thing happened the other day. A guy I know – I play soccer with him a couple times a month and would know him as an acquaintance rather than a friend – came to service our gas central heating system.

In he breezed, and asked me if I had the ‘destruction’ manual for the boiler. He probably gets to say it numerous times a week to break the ice with the customer and it made me smile as I handed over the instruction manual – to use its more common moniker.

Within 5 minutes the system had switched on of its own accord without the controller computer telling it to – not good – and ten minutes later the fuse blew on the system and shorted the circuit for the utility room.

He had indeed used the destruction manual to destroy the central heating.

It got me thinking about something I learned about early on in my managerial career, namely the self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s the notion that your attitude towards an impending situation can often govern how it turns out. If you think a meeting’s going to go badly, it probably will. If you go in with a positive mindset, you tend to get a positive outcome. Clearly there’s some cause and effect at work here.

It follows, therefore, that a positive disposition is always worth the effort, as it will help the end result favour you and also perhaps rub off on others as well.