For over forty years, Lou Tice helped corporations, non-profits, sports teams and individual athletes achieve success. As the founder of the Pacific Institute, Lou's thinking on the subject of personal development led to his creating tools and technology that supported people like Kirk Gibson, Pete Carroll and Nick Saban. Lou understood that our minds – the words, pictures, and feelings that we invoke to communicate with ourselves – can either be the accelerator that propels our success, or the brakes that kill our momentum forever.

There was a time that we viewed the impact of mental images and self-talk on success as new age gibberish. We now understand that those images provide the foundation for our decisions and actions. Recent work in neuroscience has proven that, while our first decade is our most important regarding the development of our world views, we can change in profound ways forever (Google "neuroplasticity" for more on this subject).

The late John Gardner, founder of Common Cause and former Chairman of the Carnegie Foundation, said the following in addressing McKinsey and Company Partners in a speech more than 20 years ago: "I said in my book, Self-Renewal, that we build our own prisons and serve as our own jail-keepers. I no longer completely agree with that. I still think we're our own jail-keepers, but I've concluded that our parents and society at large have a hand in building our prisons. They create roles for us – and self images – that hold us captive for a long time. The individual person intent on self-renewal will have to deal with the ghosts of the past – the memory of early failures, the resentment of childhood dramas and rebellions, accumulated grievances and resentments that have long outlived their cause. Sometimes people cling to the ghosts with something almost approaching pleasure – but the hampering effect on growth is inescapable. As Jim Whitaker, who climbed Mount Everest, said: 'You never conquer the mountain; you only conquer yourself.'"

Gardner was correct. We become so hard-wired that while change is possible, it's not easy. We often escape in the illusion that OUR truth is THE truth. Our resulting silent but deadly self-talk affirms our preconceptions and discards contradictory evidence as just plain wrong. But I digress.

Back to Lou Tice: His perspective is that we all conduct inner dialogue at one of four levels. In the first, which he terms "negative resignation," we convince ourselves that something desirable is impossible to achieve and, therefore, not even worth pursuing. To make matters worse, when we're in this frame of mind, we create pictures of ourselves failing and feelings about that failure that are so negative that we just don't bother. We may also unconsciously listen to people (I call them the naysayers, doomsdayers, dream-slayers and game players) who validate our negative, self-defeating perspective.

At the second level, which I call "passive resignation," we see that we have an issue, but we don't have any real intention of doing anything about it. Some examples of the inner dialogue that reverberates here: "Well … I know I should stop smoking, but I'm not going to," or "I should stop eating as much junk food as I do and lose some weight, but I really enjoy eating that stuff, and I don't have time to exercise."

The third level is characterized by making vows that invariably get broken. The New Year's resolution is a great (and timely) example of this. Here's the primary reason that these vows of improvement get broken most of the time: We take action based on the words and pictures in our minds, and the subsequent feelings that they generate. Someone trying to quit smoking, for example, typically envisions himself as someone trying to quit rather than replacing that picture with an alternative, such as a picture of himself as a non-smoker.

In the fourth level, we actually replace the unproductive words we use (both with ourselves and others) and mental images we invoke with more productive words and images. "I'm a smoker trying to quit" becomes "I'm a non smoker." "I'm trying to stay away from eating junk foods" becomes "I don't eat junk food." Pictures, images and internal and external dialogue must change. This isn't ethereal hocus-pocus. Our minds will accept what they're told to accept. By consistently replacing negative images with positive ones, change can, and will, happen. The earlier in the unproductive cycle of words/pictures, feelings and action we catch ourselves, the more likely we'll be able to make the changes we want to make, either striving for something we want, or eliminating something we don't.

All of this is difficult, but imminently attainable. To start, do the following:

• Discard all of the doomsdayers, naysayers, dream-slayers and game-players you have in your life. Some of these people might be your relatives, so it may be tough. At least limit your exposure to these people and tell them why you're doing so.

• Audit your own thinking and self-talk. This is simple but not easy. With practice, however, you can become adept at seeing how you torpedo your best intentions with blame, judgments, and silent finger-pointing. Consciously employ more positive language.

• Make sure you have someone in your life who is omnipresent that can, and will, call you "on your stuff." That can be a mentor or a coach. Most friends are terrible at this, so don't rely on them. A paid professional who NEVER confuses "validation" with "support" is most useful.

Good luck!

Copyright 2014 Rand Golletz. All rights reserved.

Author's Bio: 

Rand Golletz is the managing partner of Rand Golletz Performance Systems, a leadership development, executive coaching and consulting firm that works with senior corporate leaders and business owners on a wide range of issues, including interpersonal effectiveness, brand-building, sales management, strategy creation and implementation. For more information and to sign up for Rand's free newsletter, The Real Deal, visit