As you pursue a vision with your present attitudes, you may experience negative emotion. This negative emotion will stimulate avoidant behavior. You have stored emotional responses to the stimulus that you’ve experienced in the past.

Remember: an attitude is the direction in which you’re leaning. An attitude is positive if you lean toward and seek to possess the good that you perceive in it. An attitude is negative when you anticipate a negative outcome such as pain, displeasure, embarrassment, ridicule, punishment, or hurt. Your subconscious stimulates negative creativity to get you to move away from what would be uncomfortable in that setting or environment. Positive attitudes generate creativity to seek the outcome; negative attitudes stimulate creativity to avoid the outcome.

Once you declare the goal, do your present attitudes cause you to seek the goal in a positive, creative, venturous way? Or, do you start the journey but soon find yourself engaged in activities or events that have nothing to do with the goal?

If so, don’t give up on your goal just change your attitude. How do you change your negative attitudes?

1. Discover what attitudes you need to change. When you set a goal, you don’t know what your attitude will be; so monitor your attitudes until you achieve the goal. And this isn’t a grit-your-teeth override; it’s just a matter of setting the goal deeply in your subconscious.

You don’t know what attitudes you need to change, and you may not know how either. That’s why you first need to discover your negative attitudes.

In today’s world, you will discover your attitudes as you encounter “boundaryless organizations” and multicultural developments. Your attitudes toward men and women at work, your attitudes toward minorities, your attitudes toward religion, your attitudes toward different cultures and languages, your attitudes toward the wealthy and the poor, your attitudes toward the unemployed all these attitudes will surface as you encounter different people and situations.

You might say, “This is what I want to do, but now our company is merging. I’m working with different people who are a different color and speak a different language.” Watch what your self-talk is like, and watch your avoidant behavior. Watch how negative attitudes limit your potential, and the potential of the team.

changing your attitude

As I work with people in Northern Ireland, I encourage them to change attitudes that are not conducive to peace and economic prosperity. They’ve got some negative attitudes. These surface when they learn the religion of another person, just as surely as running into a man who carries a purse.

I once looked at a book of pictures of the integrated school in Derry and asked my host, “How do you know who’s Catholic or Protestant? It’s hard looking at the pictures because they all look alike.”

“Oh,” he said, “we find out immediately by asking, ‘What school did you go to?’ If you went to a different school, I immediately have a negative attitude toward you; in fact, it comes out as hatred. I don’t know that I hate you until I find out what school you attended.”

We all have certain prejudices that we were raised with, and sometimes we don’t even know what they are. When did you get your attitude about masculinity and femininity? You probably don’t even know when you acquired the attitude you just assimilated the prejudices and fears of the culture. You don’t even know you have them until you’re assigned to go to India or to open a business in Hong Kong. Now, you may get sick, just so you don’t have to go. In global markets and boundaryless companies, you must try to get past these limiting attitudes.

2. Keep a reflective thinking journal. Are you engaged in activities that lead you aggressively and positively toward the outcome that you want? Or, do you have difficulty getting yourself to do things that would lead you to the goal? Do you have difficulty making the phone call, meeting the person, studying for the test?

In your journal, keep track of how you act. Watch your behavior, watch your action. Observe the activities of people around you. Is their activity moving them progressively toward the outcome? Or, do they say they want to be an all- American, but they won’t lift weights, won’t go to practice, won’t learn the plays? Become a student of human behavior, especially your own. Note, for example, that you might say that you want to be a successful salesperson. Why, then, do you go home early, not come to meetings, and not follow up?

3. See the consequences of avoidant behavior. Much of what you find yourself doing as you pursue your goals is avoiding doing what you really want because you have a negative attitude about it. You can waste a lot of time and energy engaged in avoidant activity and behavior. So be honest with yourself. Ask yourself, “Is this serendipitous behavior letting me flow, or is it getting me out of doing something I don’t want to do?”

If you see somebody at work you don’t want to be around, watch how you go around so you don’t have to go past them. You find ways to avoid them. You engage in avoidant activity when you perceive a negative situation or an embarrassing negative outcome. And you don’t consciously do this. Your subconscious seeks to protect you from the pain. You become inventive and creative at getting yourself out of things you don’t want to do.

4. Create the Big Want. You need to spend more time on creating the Big Want. Even though you may want to do something, like be successful in raising your children, you won’t spend much time with your kids unless you create the Big Want. Or, you may wish to succeed in real estate, but you discover that you don’t like asking people to buy or asking for listings. You don’t even know you have a negative attitude; it just jumps out at you when you set a goal. And when you can’t get yourself to do the things that are essential to achieve the goal, you give up on the goal. You say, “I’m just not born to be a good salesperson.” “I’m not cut out for this business.”

In your life, you assimilate many attitudes about what can or can’t be done. You’ve assimilated many attitudes that you don’t even know you have. And they don’t surface until you’re faced with a situation.

Once you’re faced with a situation, your attitudes come out. And you won’t change your attitude to release yourself from your avoidant behavior unless you have a Big Want.

5. Use your genius to stimulate positive creativity. You become very inventive and creative when you want someone or something. When you see a person of the opposite sex that you would like to be with, you become very creative. “Oh, I didn’t know you walked home this way.” Sure you didn’t. You get so inventive and so creative to be in the company of that person.

If you want to go to a football game but you have many things to do that day, watch how you get creative to get the things done to go.

Years ago Diane and I decided to build a log cabin at our ranch. We’d never built a house before, let alone a log cabin, but as soon as we decided, we heard about people who built log cabins. They were everywhere, from St. Louis to Seattle. And we started to see magazines and other material on log cabins. Before long, we were experts on log cabins. So you set the goal, you learn, and then you express your creativity.

One time I was walking with a friend who is a wonderful photographer along a path leading from a conference center to a restaurant at a resort. All of a sudden, he stopped and said, “Hold it. Stop a moment. The light and the moisture are just right.” And he went over and he took a picture of a single blackberry blossom. I didn’t even see the blackberry blossom, but he saw one where the moisture and light were perfect for a photograph. Now, we were in the middle of a conversation; he wasn’t looking for this, but as soon as we came upon the creative opportunity, he took it.

6. Use the affirmation process to make adjustments. Once I recognize my negative attitudes, I write out a positive description of the emotion that I want controlling my automatic behavior.

For example, remember when you were a child learning how to ride a bicycle. You see in your path a rock, an obstacle. You don’t want to hit the obstacle, but you keep looking at the rock. And so, what happens? Even though you don’t want to hit it, you steer your bicycle into it.

Later, when you get good on your bike, when you see the obstacle, you are physiologically coordinated to look where you want to go. You look your way around the problem. You look your way around the rock. And you just flow around it.

When you start writing down your goals or changing your attitude, when you run up against the rock (a negative attitude), you ask, “Do I want it?” And you let yourself describe it. “Well, how do I want it? If this is what I don’t want, how do I want it?” It’s as simple as that. And then you write the description down. “If this is my problem, what would it look like when I don’t have the problem?” And you describe it as though you already are there and while you’re describing it, you write it down. What you write down becomes your affirmation. You’re describing to yourself the positive response, the positive emotion, that you want to be an automatic part of your subconscious process.