Chapter 2. Personal Foresight - Becoming an Effective Self-Leader

Daily Mantras – Affirmations, Priorities, Values

We’ve just reviewed a number of life success phrases and formulas. These phrases and formulas are models of life priorities, models with explicit and implicit values attached to them. We tried to make these models more useful by keeping the number of factors small, turning them into to codes, and creating a few mnemonics to help remember the codes. We recommend you do the same for any success formulas you adopt for yourself.

The next thing we need to discuss are affirmations. If you take your success formulas seriously, I recommend repeating them to yourself on a daily basis, so you start reprogramming both your unconscious and conscious mind toward your personal vision for your life.

Affirmations that we regularly repeat to ourselves are called mantras. Mantras are phrases we can repeat at the beginning of traditional meditation to clear away distractions and make our consciousness “empty,” which can be helpful on occasion. We can also use mantras for process meditation, a kind of consciousness where we are more fully in the present during any process we do while awake (walking, working, driving). Finally, we can use mantras to be more fully conscious of our priorities and values, whether we are awake or asleep. The more you review your favorite success phrases and formulas, the more they will become both unconscious and conscious aids to living your life.

I recommend “talking to yourself” with the appropriate affirmations, whenever you notice you are falling off what you intended to do for the day. In fact, if you find you’ve been particularly distracted for the last little while, strongly consider talking to yourself out loud for a minute, reaffirming your current priorities, and any relevant mantras, in order to get back on track. Go take a walk or find some privacy if your workmates would consider that kind of behavior to be distracting or unusual. You’ll find it quickly snaps you back to the right frame of mind to get things done, and push past your fears and distractions. If you aren’t willing to give yourself a minute of pep talk when you need it, you aren’t emotionally invested enough in what you are doing, and that needs to be fixed now.

Peak performance coach Tony Robbins has his own term for mantras. He calls them incantations. He likens the repetitiveness of a good mantra to a magic incantation, one that generates emotional and mental change. He considers mantras to be one leg of an emotional triad, tools that we all use, consciously or unconsciously, proactively or reactively, to control our lives. Here’s Robbin’s emotional triad:

    1. Physical movement (sleep, nutrition, exercise, posture, breathing, facial expressions, etc.)

    2. Focusing belief (which of our many and often conflicting beliefs about a situation we choose to focus on)

    3. Mantras/Incantations (what cognitive statements we are saying to ourselves, which influences what we say to others).

Using tools like these, you will find that you can rapidly shift your emotional state to one that will most help you thrive. As Tony says, your mind has a long history of using these tools to avoid pain and find pleasure. By being consciously aware of them, and tying your feelings of pleasure and pain to your goals, you can gain total control over your inner worlds, and choose how to best respond to your environment. There is a caveat here: We should only maintain beliefs and mantras that have the potential to become real. That potential may be small at present, but with adaptive foresight and action, we can make it grow.

The secret recipe for success is knowing who you are (self- and universe knowledge), what you want and why you want it (your higher purpose), having a great set of plans and actions for getting there (adaptive foresight), and making your inner world the best it can be (your emotional and spiritual state). Getting all these in order gives you the greatest motivation to run your Do loops, make progress, and improve your, and everyone else’s, inner and outer worlds.

Unless you consider yourself already in a peak mental and emotional state, and even if you don’t, I highly recommend Tony’s 2 CD audio series, The Edge, available on Google Play. You can stream it on your phone while you drive or exercise, if you have an unlimited data plan. If you don’t, maybe it’s time to get one. Listening to radio, instead of the music and podcasts you like, is so 20th century, isn’t it?

One effective strategy is to print your mantras out and put them on your workplace wall, or by your bed. Put them somewhere you’ll see them on a daily basis. You may wish to arrange your printable mantras by the length of each phrase, from short to long, so when you print them out they form a pyramid, pleasing to the eye. You may want to bold the ones you feel you particularly need to focus on right now. Keep them to a single page, forcing you to choose the most valuable ones to focus on. Consider starting with just a handful, adding new ones only when you’ve memorized the old ones.

When you see the list, at the beginning or end of the day, or when you are on a break, take twenty seconds or so to look them over. As you look them over and mentally rehearse them, they will become increasingly unconscious. As you fall asleep, ask yourself to remember a few of them in your dreams. As you go through your day, see if you can get one or two of them to pop up into your consciousness. Take a moment to contemplate them as they become conscious, and ask yourself if you are using them appropriately.

Peak performance expert Tony Robbins has a phrase I like: “Repetition is the mother of skill.” Repeat a mantra enough times, and it becomes both an unconscious and conscious motivator. It becomes one of your new skills. Treat them seriously, keep them to a page, and they’ll start working for you.

newmondaynewweeknewgoalsYou can find many lists of daily mantras/affirmations on the web. Start with a small list of the models that you want to keep top of mind, and any phrases or quotations that seem particularly meaningful to you as you come across them. At some point you’ll have to take away mantras, as you’ll have too many to review on a daily basis. Open a Google Doc or other online document to store them, so you can always access it from anywhere for review or updating. Feel free to rewrite any phrases you hear that you like, to make them more valuable, more personal, or more concise, to help you with reviewing them.

conqueringoneselfSome folks sign up at various places online to get of one of these sayings by email at the start of every week. Quality and usefulness varies greatly as you might expect. Only a few mantras will keep calling to you, and will survive a critical and practical evaluation of their usefulness. Those are yours.

 In practice, a single page of printed mantras may be the most affirmations you’ll be willing to glance at on a daily basis. Once you have that many, you probably won’t be looking over all of them every day, but each will get attention over time. You can have a much larger number on the remaining pages of your Google Doc that don’t make the printing cut, but are still worth reviewing on an annual basis.

Over years of using them, you’ll find that you grow out of several. They become less relevant as your circumstances change, or they become so ingrained you don’t need reminding. Cross those out as they become less important to you. Others will stay with you for a lifetime. The New Years period is a good time to give them an hour or so of editing and culling, to give yourself mental room for adding more.

Here are my current mantras to inspire you to create your own list. They end with the HRVWE success codes. Perhaps some of these will resonate with you, and make it to your wall as well. Good luck making your list, and I hope your mantras help you to live in a more conscious manner, paying closer attention to your priorities and values, every precious day of your life.



Be Bold.

Love life.

Seek flow.


Work hard.

Write daily.

“We” not “I”.

Know yourself.

Growth mindset.

Respect yourself.

Inhabit your life.

Care, count, act.

One thing at a time.

Be virtuous and kind.

Monitor your expenses.

Listen to your inner voice.

Personal responsibility.

Set goals, and focus on them.

Honor and support your family.

Repetition is the mother of skill.

Make good decisions constantly.

Choose friends of high character.

Give everyone a chance to shine.

Seek the good, the beautiful, and the true.

See and guide D&D (STEM compression).

Emotional care—yours and others—comes first.

Surprise yourself; do something scary every day.

Build your mantras carefully, and review them daily.

Don’t listen to gossip. Stay out of personal judgments.

Study the past, expect the future, and know the present.

Live your seconds well, to live your hours, days, and life well.

Enjoy your journey, and any progress toward your destination.

Find and lead toward the positive sum, whether easy or costly.

TWTLB: Talk, Write, Teach, Learn, Build (My Work: 5 Duties)

HRVWE: Health, Relationships, Vision, Work, Environment (5 Life Priorities)

HWFMLS: Wake/Sleep, Fast/Eat, Move/Rest, Learn/Reflect, Socialize/Withdraw (5 Habits)

RGRMPV: Gratitude, Responsibility, Mastery, Purpose, Virtue (5 Attributes)

VFive E’s: Empowerment, Empathy, Equity, Entertainment, Evidence-Seeking (5 Goals)

VIDCFPMST: Intelligence, Diversity, Creativity, Freedom, Power, Morality, Security, Truth (8 Goals)

WLAIS-EIRR: Learn, Anticipate, Innovate, Strategize, Execute, Influence, Relate, Review (8 Skills)

ESOFSC: Selected, Organized, Functional, Simple, Clean (5 Priorities of Mental & Physical Environment)

Finally let’s talk about icons, which are objects, or works of art, that convey some aspect of your higher aspirations. They are a great way to make your environment more intelligent, and more supportive of your personal values, priorities, and goals. We’ll discuss environmental intelligence later in this chapter. Here’s a work of art that is both a mantra and an icon, made by the blogger Mudly from a quote saved by her mother. She hung this art on her stairwell wall, so they could read it every morning. I particularly like the way this artwork makes me focus on the value of my own life, every day.