Why is it so crucial to our success that we think positive thoughts?
It turns out that we’re biologically hardwired to flourish when we think positively. History and literature are packed full of stories of ordinary people overcoming impossible odds with the power of positive thought backed by focused action.
This weekend I came across a reference to Captain Gerald “Jerry” Coffee, (USN, Retired), who was just such a person. Instantly I remembered the experience of seeing him speak in the early 1990s. He held the audience of over 3000 people in the palm of his hand as he told us the story of his capture by the North Vietnamese in 1966 and captivity as a POW for “7 years and 9 days” at the Hanoi Hilton. When he was released in 1973, he came home to a country he didn’t recognize. The whole world had changed in the 7 years of his confinement, so he had the opportunity to use everything he’d learned in Hanoi as he reintegrated back into his life in Hawaii.
In his 1990 book, Beyond Survival: Building on the Hard Times ~ A POW’s Inspiring Story, Jerry Coffee shares the experience of his capture, captivity, and transformation in a way you will never forget. To say his experience was daunting would be an understatement; nobody would want to experience a fraction of what he did. Yet Jerry will tell you that he wouldn’t trade his experience as a POW for millions of dollars. He says it’s what made him the man he is today—and he’s spent the intervening decades traveling the world inspiring others with his story.
How did he do it?
He’ll tell you he made some decisions and then acted on them:
- He decided that his experience was an opportunity to stay strong and to learn more about himself that would be possible under any other circumstances.
- He decided to do whatever it took to stay connected to the other POWs, despite the hazards that decision posed.
- He decided to stay positive and consider the possibilities of every situation he faced, despite that fact that those possibilities were never readily apparent.
What struck me about this as I read about Jerry Coffee this weekend was that his decisions in Hanoi mirrored our discussion of “uncluttering” our minds in both of last week’s blogs. Although I was inspired beyond words when I saw him speak, twenty years ago I didn’t have the context of Powerful Presence, so I couldn’t fully access the depth of the message he conveyed to us that day.
When I look at the process I have come to rely on for my own ability to flourish, as well as the roadmap it provides for my clients, I can clearly see that Jerry was using the exact same structure. This insight immediately made his story even more deeply powerful for me, 20 years after I heard it.
Jerry claimed his own power in the face of harrowing circumstances. That allowed him to create remarkable results for himself and his fellow POWs that continue to shape every day of his life and the lives of everyone who hears him speak or reads his book.
You can see that he did exactly what we talked about last week:
- Assessed his environment
- Payed attention to his thoughts
- Replaced negative thoughts with positive ones at every opportunity
Imagine what life can be like for you when you use this structure to overcome your own challenges in circumstances far less dire than those Jerry faced.
You can claim your own power and create remarkable results.
If this article has intrigued you and you want to find out more about how to do that, I hope you’ll join me for the upcoming free teleclass, Claim Your Power…Create Remarkable Results on Wednesday, July 31 at 7:30 PM EST.
As always, have an illuminating week. Let me know what you think about this post—I look forward to hearing from you!