The Power To Choose Your Thoughts

The Power To Choose Your Thoughts

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

One simple idea I often share when I am given the opportunity to speak to a 1:1 client, a team or organization is that challenges, setbacks and obstacles are part of life. It’s not that you want to expect them - the power of assumption. It’s understanding that challenges, setbacks and obstacles will come up, from time to time, in the game of life.

This is a friendly reminder that you always have the power to choose your thoughts. The thoughts you choose will ultimately determine whether you react or respond to the situation. When you choose to be objective (aka - neutral) with your current results you will be more responsive to the situation. Being more responsive requires you to stop and think which always leads to a more intentional and focused decision. When you are more intentional and focused with your decisions you demonstrate more kindness and compassion for yourself and others.

   Let me ask you:  

  Do you think it is important to be kind and compassionate?  
  Can you think of a time when you were kind and compassionate?  

Being more kind and compassionate is a superpower that you already possess. To demonstrate and embody this superpower you must consistently flex and strengthen your empathy muscle. Empathy can be defined as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” It’s not always easy to demonstrate empathy because you have your own unique experience that has shaped your perception of your world. Your ability to empathize with another human requires you to be able to see the world through their eyes. Here is the good news: your ability to empathize, like any skill, is something you can get better at with consistent and focused repetition.

I witnessed first-hand the power of empathy during a high school football game I was coaching in during the 2018 season. This experience is a powerful reminder that kindness and compassion are valuable skills even in the competitive environment of high-performance sport. During our pregame warm-ups I could sense and feel that our players and coaches were ready to perform and came to play on this warm and sunny September day.

From kickoff our team was playing with a great level of energy and enthusiasm. We played fast and this quickly translated into us achieving a 28-0 lead as we were ending the first half of the game. Our opponent responded with a big play and scored on a 60+ yard pass and run.

As the defence came off the field our players followed their usual routine. They jogged off the field and they sat down on the bench so we could quickly debrief the last series. I noticed one of our players, who had missed his assignment on the last play, had his head down. I could tell from his body language that he was dwelling on and replaying the previous play over and over in his head. It was at this moment where I knew I had to grab the attention of the players by taking full responsibility for what had just happened.

I started by saying …
Boys, the first one is on me. I didn’t give you enough reps in practice this week so you could confidently respond to that last play.

   Let me ask you:  

  Did the other team make an amazing play that we can’t stop?  Or  
  Did we have a breakdown in our assignments that allowed them to score?”

The consensus was we gave our opponents an easy score based on our missed assignments. The attitude of our players and coaches instantly shifted and we refocused our attention on winning the next play. I quickly reviewed the responsibility for each of our players, on the dry-erase board, and asked them:

“Are we good?”
The players responded with a “Yes Coach.”

For the remainder of the game we played with great energy and enthusiasm and won by a final score of 56-7. In the game of life we will all experience challenges, setbacks and obstacles - it’s part of the game of life. I often remind myself of wise words from Nelson Mandela “I never lose. I either win or I learn.

A great leader understands their responsibility is to help their teams to be focused during challenging times because it’s the only way to achieve GREATNESS moving forward. The goal of the transformational leader is to help others to think highly of themselves which requires you to be kind and compassionate.

Repeat the following affirmations out loud with energy and enthusiasm.


Allow yourself to feel these words and do the following exercise to strengthen your mind-body connection. Grab your piece of paper or your journal.



JT Tsui is a Human Potential and Success Coach who is supporting people create the life they want. Growth and goal-oriented, JT helps individuals, groups and companies discover their deepest desires, reach their potential and achieve their personal and professional goals.