Shane Kempton: Positive mental attitude (in three simple steps!)

With our negative thoughts being up to seven times more influential on our state of mind than their positive counterparts, it's important we know how to control them. Shane Kempton explains what three steps you can take to help change your mindset.

Chris is an agent who has missed out on his past two listing presentations.

He is now starting to think he has lost his edge and he’s not as good as his competitors.

He goes to his third listing presentation with this negative thinking and, sure enough, he misses this one too.

When he gets home, he starts saying to his partner, “I’m no good at this anymore, I’ve lost my edge. I’m with the wrong brand.”

The more he speaks, the more his mental state deteriorates.

Over the next few days he snaps at his partner, he’s late to sales meetings, and he’s not motivated to follow-up his buyers.

The sales manager notices Chris is down and says, “chin up mate, stay positive”.

This only further frustrates Chris, and now he feels nobody understands him.

Have you seen or even experienced this scenario before?

When you’ve just lost a listing to a competitor or if a contract has gone pear-shaped, the last thing you want to hear is, “stay positive” or “you just need a positive attitude”.

Although your colleague’s intentions may be honourable, in those emotionally low times, that kind of advice is not productive or effective.

For most of us, it’s difficult to instantly switch from a negative state of mind to a positive one and sustain it. 

The state we show up in for our family, team and clients has a massive impact on the type of influence you have, the experience they have, and what outcomes can be achieved.

Trying to function effectively in a negative state more often than not leads to frustration and less than your best results.

The good news is that there is a proven process that can shift your state of mind.

It’s a technique elite athletes use in stressful situations when the eyes of the world are on them.

It’s now applied to the business world with great success.

I’ve used it consistently in recent times, as it effectively and efficiently moves you from a negative state to a positive one.

I learnt this method from Trevor Moawad, who is a mental conditioning coach.

You can find out more from his bestselling book, It Takes What It Takes.


From personal experience and from witnessing many coaching clients in their darkest times, we know negative thinking works as a powerful influencer on our state of mind.

The more negative thoughts we have, the more likely we are going to experience life negatively.

Our negative thinking is our greatest enemy.

The power of negative thinking is backed by research from Christine Porath and Harvard University.

They discovered that negative thinking is four to seven times more influential on our state of mind than positive thinking.

They also added that when we verbalise our thoughts and say them out loud, they are 10 times more likely to impact our state of mind and our behaviour compared to not speaking those thoughts. 

When we speak our negative thoughts out loud, those words are 40 to 70 times more likely to adversely influence our state of mind, behaviours and emotions. 

With the above research in mind, the first step in shifting from a negative state to a positive one is to stop saying negative thoughts out loud.

We may struggle to control what we think, but we can definitely control what we say.

This is a great first step, but we are not in a positive state yet.

Rather, you are on your way to a place Trevor Moawad describes in his book as the “neutral mind”.


Think of driving a car in reverse as a metaphor for a negative mindset.

Driving forward is a positive state.

When driving a car in reverse, you can’t slam it into drive to go forward without something breaking.

It’s the same with our state of mind.

Like a car going in reverse, first you need to slow the backwards movement to a stop, go into neutral, then shift into drive to move forward.

The three-step process

1. Not saying negative thoughts out loud helps you slow down the reverse action of your mind.

When we stop verbalising our negative thoughts out loud, we eliminate the reverse momentum by a multiple of 40 to 70 times.

2. Next, we need to come to a complete stop and find neutral. We do this by pausing, stepping back and looking at the situation objectively.

Remove the emotion of the situation and ask, what are the facts?

This is your “neutral mind”.

Once you have a clear, logical and unemotive view of your current situation, you are ready to put your car into drive and move forward to your positive state. 

3. We do this by determining what is the next right/best behaviour to move forward, no matter how small.

Chances are, you may not feel like doing this action, but you should remove the emotion and take that first baby step forward.

Once you do this, it builds self-trust and self-respect, raising your endorphins and shifting and moving your state of mind forward in a positive direction.


Let’s go back to Chris’s story.

After three missed opportunities, rather than saying his negative thoughts out loud, he would have been better off doing the following:

1. After missing his third listing presentation, rather than verbalising his negative thoughts, Chris should keep them to himself, park his negative emotions and look at why things aren’t working logically.

2. Before doing another listing presentation, he should pause, step back and review each of the three meetings. Chris should consider getting someone from his office to call each seller to find out why they chose the other agent. He could also show his listing presentation to his sales manager to see if he is missing anything.

3. After getting the feedback from the seller surveys and hints from his sales manager, even though he may not feel like it, Chris should role-play his revised listing presentation several times before presenting to a client.

As he masters the new scripts, techniques and hints, he will begin to feel more confident, and his state of mind will start to move in a positive direction, setting him up for a better fourth meeting.


The more you practice and complete this new behaviour, the more it will amplify your positive state.

We are creatures of habit.

If you build rituals and routines around your new behaviour, it will become an automatic response.

The University of London says it takes about 66 days to create a habit.


Remember, next time you are down and in reverse, practise the three-step process.

  1. Don’t verbalise your negative thoughts. Ever!
  2. Stop, pause and look at things objectively and without emotion.
  3. Do the next right/best behaviour regardless of how small, even if you don’t feel like doing it.

Finally, your mind is a double-edged sword.

Your unchecked negative thinking can be your greatest enemy. However, your proactive, positive and creative mind, when focused, is your most potent resource. 

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Shane Kempton

Shane Kempton is the CEO of Harcourts WA and the network high performance coach.