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Thoughts Become Things!

Mindset Made Simple Tip #139 – Watch or listen HERE.

I have always had a cool job! Being a Division I softball coach was a dream come true and getting to do it for more than 25 cool!

Not to be outdone by what I do now! Although I don’t go to practice every day anymore, I still get to train with amazing people every single day.

One of my favorite training times takes place on Fridays at 8:00 am when I get to train with an amazingly talented non-profit CEO. It is my job to challenge her and help her perfect her mental game, and in doing so, I learn a ton, too!

Our conversation on Friday surrounded a hero of ours, the former president of my alma mater, Dr. Neal Malicky. In a recent visit to campus for an alumni function, my friends and fellow alums got to watch a video welcome from Dr. Malicky, a man so loved that there was scant a dry eye in the place when the video ended.

This guy was BW! No matter who you were, he knew your name. He made the place special.

Dr. Malicky was recently invited to a donor party at the university. At 89 and suffering from things 89-year-olds suffer with, Dr. Malicky declined the invitation, not wanting to be a distraction. His close confidant, my amazingly talented CEO friend (and one of my most cherished mentors) encouraged him to attend.

He went. And upon entering the facility, it was as if it was 1999, his final year at the university. He shook hands with strength and poise. He sat straight and strong. He acted as if he was in his 60s, not his late 80s!

For that evening, he was the invincible and incredible Neal Malicky those in attendance remember and revere! How does a man who struggles physically stand tall, sit tall and muster the wherewithal to seemingly reverse aging, even if it was for just an evening?

How? Because THOUGHTS BECOMING THINGS and we live up to…or down to…our self-image!

In 1979, researcher Ellen Langer conducted a study that suggests this is so!

In her “counterclockwise” study, Langer took eight men in their 70s on a retreat during which they lived as if it was 20 years earlier. They watched, read, experienced and acted as if the things that happened 20 years earlier were happening to them in the present. They had conversations as such. They watched the news and read the papers from the late 50s. They looked at pictures of themselves from that time, wore the clothes and were immersed in 1959.

What happened?

On the way in, some of the men shuffled and walked with a cane. On the last day of the retreat, they had a small football game in the courtyard. Hearing, memory and grip strength improved along with vision, joint flexibility and dexterity. They stood taller and had fewer symptoms of arthritis. Pictures taken after the retreat were rated as significantly younger than those taken as they arrived!

Langer’s study is echoed in what Lynne Taggart writes in her book The Intention Experiment: Using Your Thoughts to Change Your Life and the World. She contends that “every thought we have is tangible energy with the power to transform. A thought is not only a thing; a thought is a thing that influences other things.”

Thoughts become things…so just to be clear, I’m 32 in my mind, today and every day after being reminded of these studies!

Our thoughts are powerful. And so are our expectations. What we think of what others expect is powerful, too! Maybe this is why Dr. Malicky stood taller as he met with those who have always seen him as bigger than life!

What we think we should be or what we think should happen often comes to fruition! This is proven in study after study through the placebo effect. We believe something will affect us in a certain way – the medicine or placebo – we don’t know which one we received, and it often affects us exactly as we thought it would.

If the way we think about ourselves (or anything else) can get us from walking with a cane to throwing around a football with a bunch of guys, how do we need to look at ourselves differently?

Here’s the thing, we rarely outperform…or underperform our self-image.

How we see ourselves starts with how we think about ourselves and how we talk to and about ourselves! Maybe you have this all under control, but I bet there are at least a few people that you lead who don’t….just a hunch! 😊

Our negativity bias, which pushes us toward continually looking for or at problems….like what we shoulda or coulda done doesn’t help our self-image.

When we spend our time thinking about everything we can’t do, did wrong or might do wrong, we are feeding our brains with cortisol, decreasing our feel-good chemicals like dopamine, allowing our limbic brain to take over and generally building pathways to allow negativity to flow more freely! And…we are increasing our risk of dementia, stroke and hormone imbalance.

We aren’t using our amazing brain in our favor and it’s affecting our performance!

To perform better we need to think better about ourselves and our circumstances!

Can’t make the jump from “I suck” to “I’m the best” because you know you won’t buy it?


Maybe, just maybe (and I have no idea because I haven’t asked), Dr. Malicky went from “I’ll be a distraction and I’m not who I used to be” (a black and white statement in his head…or so we are assuming for the sake of this argument) to “I may not be able to command the room like I used to, but I’ll can still have meaningful conversations with those sitting around me” which is a bit more grey…or open… and allows for some courage to take the next step!

We are so “all or nothing” in our heads about ourselves and our circumstances….and most things aren’t “all or nothing” in life. To move from the image we hold to the image we need, maybe we need to build a bridge and start seeing ourselves…or thinking about ourselves, not as our perfect selves, but as our better selves!

Each time we start to go “there” – and you know where your “there” is – we think about facts.

Thoughts aren’t facts. Facts are facts. Building a bridge allows us to move from a negative thought to a productive thought that doesn’t trigger the “yeah, right” internal eye roll!

It doesn’t force us to pretend we have no negative thoughts. It means that when we do…and we will… we shift from that thought to asking what we know instead of how we feel.

If we shift to thinking about what is true or what we can do, we inch closer and closer to who we can be! Because, as Bruce Lee said, “what you habitually think largely determines what you will ultimately become.”

Stand taller in your thoughts. Stand taller in your world!

Thank you, Dr. Malicky, for continuing to teach. No matter how tall you can physically stand, you stand larger than life to so many!

Manage the moments…and your thoughts because they become things!


P.S. I’d love to help your team adjust their mental game! Contact me today at or call/text 234-206-0946 and let’s set up a session or a plan for your program!

Julie Jones

Mental Performance Coach

SSB Performance • 234-206-0946

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