Explaining your success

Henry Ford captured a whole bunch of truths in his iconic saying “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right”

A lot of your success in life boils down to the way you explain to yourself why you experience or expect to experience a particular event, either positive or negative.

We tend to explain things to ourselves in 3 P’s:

  1. Personal
  2. Permanent
  3. Pervasive
Personal. (Internal vs. External) We either see the cause of an event as within oneself or outside oneself. This involves how one explains where the cause of an event arises. People experiencing events may see themselves as the cause; that is, they have internalised the cause for the event. Example: “I always forget to make that turn” (internal) as opposed to “That turn can sure sneak up on you” (external).
Permanent. (Stable vs. Unstable) Events are either changing across time or unchanging across time. This involves how one explains the extent of the cause. People may see the situation as unchangeable, e.g., “I always lose my keys” or “I never forget a face”.
Pervasive. (Global vs. Local) The effect of an event or action is either universal throughout one’s life or specific to a part of one’s life. This involves how one explains the extent of the effects. People may see the situation as affecting all aspects of life, e.g., “I can’t do anything right” or “Everything I touch seems to turn to gold”.

These explanatory styles explain why people keep on being pessimistic or optimistic in life. Remember we either see the world as a dangerous place or a safe place. But this departure point is a learned condition and therefore be unlearned and re-learned. If all a child’s needs are met, they learn that the world is a safe place. They then tend to be optimistic, and visa verse.

Please note each one of these explanatory styles has a function. For example: To internalize the cause of a positive event like winning a gold medal is healthy. But to internalize the abuse of a partner is not healthy.

Becoming aware of you unique blend of personal, permanent and pervasive styles, will assist you in re-learning the most effective and healthy explanation of whether you can or cannot achieve success in life.



One thought on “Explaining your success

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s