Interview: How Our Thoughts Affect Our Success And Life
Date: May 29, 2016
How many times have you heard a speaker claim to help you feel more positive and happier about life to be let down?
Living happy and a positive life is what we all aim for, and we may seek that through material posessions. But deep down, that’s all anyone wants.
We had the privilege to speak with Anne McDowell, an inspirational author, speaker and transformational mentor, who aims to leave audiences walking away from her seminars with a transformational toolkit and injection of happiness, positivity and optimism to handle any of life’s challenges!
She focuses on the power of our thoughts and how what we think, do, act and behave all have consequences.
Hi Anne. As a Positivity Strategist, Inspirational Author/Speaker and Transformational Mentor, what can audiences expect from you?
It’s so lovely to be here. Thanks for the opportunity to chat!
They get to know that I am a transformational mindset shifter, who helps entrepreneurs, corporates and motivated individuals all over the world, who are struggling with mindset, leadership and bouncing back from life’s challenges.
I share with the audience what I know first-hand: life does not go according to plan. From experiencing some time with the ’emotional titanic’, to relationship breakups, to job redundancy, to being blindsided by friends, to business ups and downs. I’ve been through it all – and all with a eternally positive and optimistic attitude.
I talk about my 2016 e-Lit SILVER Award-Winning (self-help) book, “Creating Eternal Optimism: Redesign Your Thinking and Transform Your Life in 30 Days”, and how my passion is to teach, coach, speak, write books about and inspire people to live positively and optimistically.
In a nutshell, how do our thoughts impact our success?
You’ve heard the saying “when life throws you lemons, make lemonade” and that’s the optimistic way of looking at the world.
The problem is that most people fall into the negative pattern of “when life throws you lemons, all you have is lemons: sourness, pain and a never-ending problem”.
Negative thoughts tend to then overwhelm us and it’s often hard to see a way forward.
You’ll hear the classics: “why me?”… “just when I was getting ahead”… “I take two steps forward and three backward all the time!”
When we are encountering difficulties, these negative thoughts and feelings start to take over, and during this time we suddenly seem to forget how to be problem solvers, and we just become problem dwellers, and problem re-tellers.
We can get caught up so much in sharing and re-telling the problem, that we forget that we should be working on how to solve the problem.
Have you heard of the expression “self-fulfilling prophesy”? It simply means that whatever you believe, will be.
If you believe that you are totally powerless in a situation, then you will be. If however, you believe that you have choices (choices over what you think, say, do, how you behave etc), then you empower yourself with those choices, even in a difficult or problematic situation.
Either way, our thoughts on a situation determine the outcome and whether it is positive or negative.
I teach people how to be empowered even in a disempowering situation, so that even a negative situation can be turned into a positive outcome.
Is there a criteria to follow to think positive?
Yes there is, and it’s so simple.
Firstly, it is about self-awareness – you know, that little voice that plants seeds of doubt in you, or criticises what you look like in the mirror.
I am totally self-aware (not self-absorbed!) of what I’m feeling or telling myself. If I hear that voice, I instantly recognise it, shut it down and switch my activity or thoughts to something I love to do.
I might get up from my desk and go out into the sunshine for five minutes, water the garden, exercise, or call a friend. I simply do not let that voice tear me down.
It’s also about surrounding yourself with positivity: positive messages, upbeat vibey music (no sad ballads please!!), inspirational quotes, beautiful touching stories etc.
If you are surrounded by negativity, such as office gossip, world news and problems, then it has a heavy effect on our souls. Don’t engage in that. Switch the TV off, go out into the fresh air and surround yourself with positivity.
Think about it as almost like a layer of armour, or a shield protecting me from any negativity – it slides straight off, or I do not let it in.
Just remembering that I have choices is the most positive thing. We can choose to feed ourselves positivity or not, but it is a choice we have the power to make!
What was your last speaking event and how was the experience?
I ran an interactive Seminar called “The Mindset Makeover”, where I spoke about redesigning your thinking to transform your life into one you’ll love.
My book was an attendance giveaway during this Seminar, and then I shared six mindset makeover strategies, which aren’t in my book. My parting gift was to also share with them my biggest secret to living a life of happiness and success.
As it was interactive, the audience was able to share their challenges and ask questions directly related to their personal situation, and it gave me an opportunity to be “The Positivity Strategist” for them, and develop some positive strategies for them to move forward through the situation.
The audience felt that they had something tangible to take away, and put into practice.
When did you first realise that you could make a difference to people’s lives?
It’s a hard question to answer. When you have a passion for helping people, it’s not something that you’re totally aware of as being anything special; it’s just something that you do, and know that you were born to do.
I’ve always been a helper, a shoulder to cry on and a wise advice giver even from my teenage years – it’s just who I was and what I did.
I guess the realisation that I was making a difference to people’s lives came about 17 years ago when I was in adult education, training and coaching people to progress in their careers.
There I was teaching business, leadership and management principles, to help the next generation of leaders become “great” ones.
As part of my own natural evolution, my passions to help people overcome life’s challenges and share my optimism and happiness has become more and more pressing, as we encounter more and more complicated lives and times.
It all came to a head a few years ago when a colleague called me “Pollyanna”, when I finally realised that people gravitated toward me for my optimism and happiness. Hence, why I wrote my book to share my strategies with the world!
For those who wish to become a speaker, what three pieces of advice would you give them?
I have been a public speaker since I was 17 years old, and back then I made the decision to overthrow my lack of self-confidence and harness my nerves to serve me, and not hinder me.
One of the ways I did that was to recognise that the people in my audience were actually interested in what I had to say.
So my three pieces of advice would be:
- Value what you have to say. Remember that if it will help, inspire or positively influence people’s lives, then it is a story that must be told
- Speak from the heart. Too many people read their talks word-for-word from auto cues or finely honed speeches. If you are giving an inspirational talk, learn to use dot points for cues and share with them your story
- Speak from the heart successfully. You must start speaking spontaneously and that means that you practice, practice, practice every opportunity you get! No-one knows your story better than you do, so there’s no need to read it word-for-word. Share the same message, just to a different audience and that way, you are always speaking from the heart!
What’s your long-term goal?
My long-term goal is to fill auditoriums globally with people who want their lives transformed from negative into positive.
I’ve been through a lot in my life and my purpose is to share that information about the things I’ve learned in my life lessons.
I want people to empower people with skills so that they can cope with changing circumstances and bounce back from life’s challenges with optimism and happiness.
Has anyone ever told you that you’ve changed their life?
Yes. I have been an adult trainer/career coach/life coach for over 17 years, and it has been my job to influence, change and enhance people’s lives as they have studied toward qualifications and momentous life-changing career and life changes.
The type of comments that people tell me stems from something I have said that has resonated in their life.
For example, I was teaching a confidence-building workshop for the long-term unemployed about how to stand in your power in the presence of an emotional abuser (after my own experience in this area), and a young woman came up to me after the 4-day workshop, and told me that the information I provided during the workshop had totally changed her life.
She felt so empowered to stand in her power, and felt more and more capable of influencing that negative behaviour to stop.
You also have a business in helping people polish their resumes. Is it important for you to help people?
It’s funny how realisations suddenly hit and you can suddenly put everything you do into a simple phrase. I love to help people. I’ve been helping people in such a variety of ways for so long that it all just seems to be natural for me to see how everything is connected.
It was only a few years ago though, when someone, looking at the variety of things that I offer in my business, said “you do so many different and seemingly unrelated things in your business.
You can go from writing someone’s resume, to counselling someone when they’ve been made redundant, to hiring someone to firing someone, to training someone, to writing books. Is there a common theme in all of that?”
To which I replied, “yes, the common theme is that I love to help people”.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
My tag line is “I believe life is meant to be enjoyed, not endured”, so when you think on that, you’ll see that my passion is to help people enjoy their lives by redesigning their thinking, changing the way they do/look at things, and live in happiness, abundance and success.
I get out of bed with the view that “today I have the potential to positively change or influence someone’s life, so that they can start achieving things in their life that they want to achieve”.
Life is too short to be miserable. I choose to spread happiness instead!
From reading Anne’s interview, you can tell that she loves to inspire and make a difference in the world as everything she does is centered around improving people’s lives.
All the best!