Here is Jun Loayza’s contribution to the Success Factors blog series. Check back daily for more updates in January 2009.
The concept of the self-fulfilling prophecy refers to a false statement that changes your behavior so that the statement comes true. Suppose, for example, that you thought you would fail your upcoming test so you neglected to study. Your self-fulling prophecy made you ignore test preparation and ignoring test preparation fulfilled your self-fulfilling prophecy. But psychology aside, in the remaining part of this article I will show you how the self-fulfilling prophecy can help you and your business.
1. Create Your Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
Just like the thought of failure can make you fail, the thought of success can make you succeed. So, be sure you craft a self-fulfilling prophecy that aligns with your business goals. Please note, you need to be specific. You can’t say something like, “I will be rich” or “I will be CEO.” Instead, you need to break your prophecy down to its core. For example, we know rich people know how to make money, but more importantly, they know how to save money. Now how easy does “deposit one dollar per day into my savings account” sound compared to “save money?”
2. Plant the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy Seeds
When I rushed Delta Sigma Pi, I was terrified of public speaking. To my dismay, one of our tasks required just that. My group and I were given an object and we had to create an infomercial with five minutes of preparation. I was the group leader, so they decided I had to present and I thought I flopped. Later that night, Yu-Kai, the CEO of Future Delivery, said to me “I first noticed you during that infomercial. You caught the attention of the whole room.”
Fast forwarding a few months, I know I’m good at public speaking. Yu-Kai planted the seed, whether it was true or false, and now I crush speeches regularly. So, if you want to grow your business, you should look out for what other people say about you since every compliment is a potential seed of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
On the flip side, you can also plant your own self-fulfilling prophecy seeds. You can do this by crafting a specific self-fulfilling prophecy as mentioned above.
3. Water The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy Seeds
The seeds are planted, but without water, they won’t grow. Yu-Kai wanted me to grow from a good public speaker, to a great public speaker, so he bought me three books: Never Eat Alone, Made to Stick, and Good to Great. He knew that practice doesn’t make perfect, but instead, perfect practice makes perfect. So, these three handbooks was his way of watering my public speaking seed and it worked.
Like what Yu-Kai did for me, you need to do for your business. If you want to be the star salesmen, you need to make those extra sales calls. You need to study the latest trends in persuasion and how to sell. This effort is what makes the self-fulfilling prophecy come true.
4. Even the Biggest Trees Need Water
Despite being a confident publich speaker, Yu-kai consistently reminds me that he thinks I’m the best. He gives me positive reinforcement and provides me with much water for growth because after all, even the biggest trees still need water.
I remember last March when I saw an MBA student give the greatest speech I had ever seen. Yu-kai turned to me and said, “You’re way better than him.” I thought he was joking, but he was being sincere. Now I had to live up to Yu-kai’s expectations of me.
Now if you’re looking to apply this to your business, you may not always have someone like Yu-kai pumping you up. However, you need to live up to your own expectations and goals. After all, the only thing worse than letting someone down is letting yourself down.
The Bottom Line
As John Steinbeck once said, “It is the nature of man to achieve greatness when greatness is expected of him.” So, make sure you expect greatness from yourself and your colleagues and you will develop the most powerful self-fulfilling prophecy in business.