Successful Thinking Tipping Points
Bill Cottringer

“Successful people are just those with more successful habits than others.”  ~Brian Tracy.

Success today requires more than just raw IQ points in pure brain power. To achieve success today, you must develop and practice successful thinking and the emotional and social intelligence that goes along with it. To maintain success, you must exercise even more of these things at a higher level. This holds true whether you are trying to lead a sports team to victory, have a better relationship with your spouse or family, get good grades in school, teach others how to learn, run a business, practice a profession, or do any other kind of job.

There are certain tipping points that pave the way for these new software skills to take hold and get results. Here are ten of the more important tell-tale ones that will let you know you are making progress at developing your successful thinking and emotional and social quotients. My challenge is for you to make your own reality-check list, because successful thinking has no ceiling or boundary.

1. When you realize a lot of what is in your head is (mostly) nonsense. This is hardly a normal thing we are ever taught or otherwise encouraged to do. After all, if all that you think you know isn’t really so, then what the heck is left? As one friend said though—an open mind isn’t necessarily an empty one. It is commonly known that we often argue the loudest over things we know the least about. Isn’t that a waste of valuable time? Wouldn’t it be more sensible to just accept the need for an occasional purging of questionable information so that it can be turned into knowledge and wisdom by actually setting out to learn what you don’t know and need to?

2. When you start noticing what you have failed to notice all along. This is a very powerful insight many of us miss because when are not noticing the phenomenon of being on autopilot most of the time and not contemplating things enough. It is the contemplation that helps you notice the connection between certain things you say or do and the outcomes you get from saying or doing those things. The behavior and outcomes are often so close that other things catch the blame, especially the ones we imagine causing bad outcomes. This tipping point in not a one time event.

3. When you become more sensitive to the point of no return. Perhaps this is one of the toughest points in time to be aware of because of experience and judgment and may other distractions. But knowing when to fish or cut bait as to whether something is a moment of opportunity or one of danger is the only way to increase opportunities and avoid danger. All that is required here is to become more sensitive to the moment of no return in a situation before it comes and goes. And if that doesn’t work for you, just heed Abraham Lincoln’s advice: Life usually gives you two opportunities for the important things and so it is a very good idea to know when the first one has already come and gone.

4. When you start questioning sacred paradigms. This is usually dangerous provocation, especially when you reveal the elephant in the room that no one dares to question. So many people believe a certain belief has to be true, that disproving it becomes impossible and usually very unpopular. Here, creative people must lead the way with their courage just to let others know the value of shifting your points of view to get a better view and eventually do a complete 360 and see or do something nobody else has ever seen or done. This is your unique contribution that we are all capable of.

5. When you stop judging things. We are natural judgers, putting just about everything into opposite categories like good or bad, truth or fiction, life or death, right or wrong, desirable or undesirable, win or lose, etc. The trouble is these categories are extremes and we know extremes are an artificial convenience for understanding and controlling them. When you think about it, very few things have any inherent goodness or badness in them, yet we are very quick to make a good vs. bad determination of just about everything that happens. Putting a hold on this judgment addiction opens many potential success doors ahead.

6. When you realize why you are who you are. Let me be blunt here. We are all about what we read and who we hang out with. Those two forces do the most shaping of who we grow into, starting with parents and peers and ending with heroes. If you want to be highly smart, successful and content, then read books that inspire you how to be that way and hang out with people who are already there or who are making more progress than you think you are.

7. When you start validating your intuition. Some say intuitions come from somewhere between the head and heart. Somehow, that location seems to make sense. We all get intuitive impressions that are not rational or easy to understand. Naturally we are hesitant in following hunches and gut feelings unless our particular jobs require that. The tipping point here is to listen to what the intuition is trying to tell you, follow it, track results and validate it for future use, keeping the good ones and tossing the rest.

8. When you see time in a different light. It is not unreasonable to say that time is something we invented to be able to have memories of the past, experiences in the now moment and predictions of the future. Actually, time was invented by monks to keep them on a praying schedule! We all have all the “time” there is, but it never seems to be enough. Too much to do and too little time to do it. Why is this? Mainly because we are obsessive of measuring time in terms of being a regulated, mechanical thing, easier to understand and manage; but there is enough scientific evidence that time is more variable than stable and maybe just forever without any need for frenzied hurrying. Just considering this possibility opens the door to some unimaginable things. All I can say is try it you might like it.

9. When you realize the folly of over-embracing half-truths. The normal evolution of thinking starts with simple explanations, moves to more complex ones, and then settles for the simple just on the other side of complexity. This is the creative process that repeats itself with each new topic that confronts us. Although half-truths can be very appealing and popular, sooner or later the other half becomes visible, as will the middle ground after that. This applies to everything from parenting to running a business and everywhere in between.

10. When you learn your unique purpose in life. Some people are fortunate in finding and living their special life’s purpose at an early age and enjoying life more for a longer period of time. Others wander wastelands and dead-ends for years looking for their purpose and suddenly bump into it on a road to their destiny that they chose to avoid earlier. And still others never find their purpose. We all have a general purpose for being here and that seems to involve the effort to become our best self. Just know that reaching higher levels of success and happiness requires using all these successful thinking tipping points to find you unique purpose.

“All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.” ~Mark Twain.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D., Certified Homeland Security (CHS) level III, is Executive Vice-president for Employee Relations for Puget Sound Security Patrol, Inc., in Bellevue, Washington, sport psychologist, and adjunct professor in criminal justice at Northwest University. He is author of several business and self-development books, including You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too, The Bow-Wow Secrets, Do What Matters Most, ‘P’ Point Management, Reality Repair, Reality Repair RX, Thoughts on Happiness, Pearls of Wisdom: A Smart Dog’s Tale. He can be reached at 425-652-8067 or