The thoughts that we create and radiate are subtle, powerful pieces of energy that affect people and the environment around us. These days, the functions of business organizations are being led, managed, and ­performed by people who are knowingly or unknowingly creating this powerful “thought energy,” directing it toward coworkers and bosses alike. Some of this energy is positive, and some of it is negative, but it almost always has an effect on the organization and the people within it.

If you’ve been working as a management accountant or financial professional long enough, you’ve probably had to deal with bad bosses, toxic work environments, difficult relationships with colleagues, and real-life corporate crises. In cases like these, it’s easy to blame others or external circumstances. But that only creates more negative and compromised energy. Situations themselves are lifeless; it’s our thoughts that give them life and meaning and catapult them into reality.


Everything we see around us began as a thought or as an idea in the mind of a single person before it was translated into reality. Everything in our life started out as a thought, a wish, a hope, or a dream—either in our mind or in the mind of someone else. Our thoughts are creative. They form and shape our world and everything that happens to us. In fact, I could argue that our life occurs more on the inside, through our thoughts, than it does on the outside.

The greatest summary statement is this: “You become what you think about—most of the time.” Our outer world ultimately becomes a reflection of our inner world and mirrors back to us what we think about. In other words, our thoughts continuously emerge in our reality.

Many thousands of successful people have been asked what they think about most of the time. The most common answer? They think about what they want and how to get it.

Unsuccessful people think and talk about what they don’t want most of the time: to be stuck in traffic, caught in a rainstorm, ripped off by a contractor, or have a friend or relative ask for money. You get the idea. Most of the time they talk about their problems and worries and who’s to blame for them. Successful people, on the other hand, focus their thoughts and conversations on their most intensely desired goals. Put simply, they spend most of their time thinking and talking about what they want most out of life.


Living without clear goals is like wearing glasses with the wrong lenses. Even behind the wheel of the most powerful, well-engineered car, you’ll drive slowly and hesitantly, inching along mile by mile. But if you know what your goals are and channel your energies and abilities to reach them, you’ll move forward at a good pace, and you may ultimately get what you want out of life. And you won’t have to press the accelerator to the floor to do it!

Here’s how establishing clear goals has played out in my own life: After I received my bachelor of commerce degree in 1992, I decided to pursue the Chartered Accountant designation because I thought it would broaden my knowledge base and provide me with the skills to enable me to move up the corporate ladder. The key thing that helped me during this process was that I never compared myself to other people and always extended a helping hand to others, which I believe made a good impression on my bosses.

Through the promotions I received, I could see that my planning skills and hard work were beginning to pay big dividends. Further, I used the same approach and thought process when I started pursuing my CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) certification. I knew this, too, would take a lot of work, but I was committed to getting my CMA and joining this group of elite professionals. I became a CMA in 2017.

This is my story, but it can be yours as well. It will be easier to reach your goals if you consider your thoughts—or even a single thought—as the first step on a continuum of moving toward a specific goal or end result. As Figure 1 shows, feelings, attitudes, and actions all help to propel this process along.

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In an ethical business environment, the quality of the thoughts that the company’s leaders, managers, and frontline staff create on a daily basis in their personal and professional relationships will determine the destiny of the organization and, it is hoped, have a positive impact on its bottom line.

Stepping back a bit, it’s also necessary to understand the “raw material,” or source, behind each new thought we create, which leads to the end result (see Figure 2).

I recall one time when I was working on an important presentation to be given at the next board meeting for the launch of a new product. Working with people from different countries and cultures, I drew on my knowledge and past experiences to gently guide the planning stages in the direction I thought they should go. Despite some disagreements with my colleagues, I remained composed and thought about how everything we learn is interconnected and works off each other. The presentation was a success, the board members were impressed, and I was left with a very exhilarating feeling of accomplishment.


As most of us know, organizations succeed when productivity rises, employees collaborate efficiently and respectfully with one another, and efforts are made to minimize the risks of fraud. Most businesses collapse, however, not because they didn’t hire people with the right skills but because the initial momentum and energy, which was there at the beginning, is lost. The employer fails to pass on a sense of ownership. The result? New ideas aren’t encouraged, so employees remain silent, often for fear of appearing as a threat to upper management. This slowly and gradually destroys the organization, leading to financial losses (which are often not seen initially in the financial statements) and negative operational cash flow. Ultimately, the organization fails.

How pervasive is this problem? A Gallup study from April 2015 says that just 30% of U.S. employees report feeling engaged at work and that managers are responsible for 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores. Moreover, the same Gallup report found that companies are hiring the wrong people to be managers or supervisors 82% of the time, wasting time and money and causing their employees to become disengaged. “Most companies promote workers into managerial positions because of tenure or performance rather than talent. This practice doesn’t work,” the report stated. “Experience and skills are important, but people’s talents—the naturally recurring patterns in the way they think, feel, and behave—predict where they’ll perform at their best.” (To learn more, go to

Ethics, which stem from thoughts, are about the integrity and credibility of the decision-making process and are used to resolve any number of issues. Individuals and organizations behave ethically when their actions are aligned with a set of core values. The challenge for most organizations is that employees come into the company with predefined values and thought patterns, but they’re hardly challenged to change them so that the company can present a unified image to customers, shareholders, vendors, the community, and all other stakeholders.

Therefore, it’s of utmost importance for the organization to initiate a “thought management program” at all levels. I don’t mean some sort of dystopian mind-control scheme that rids people of their emotions and feelings, but guidance as to how to think clearly and take full responsibility for thoughts and actions that relate to the business and its core values. In this manner, all employees will get the guidance they require to make ethical choices that align with corporate values.


For their 2007 book, Driven: Business Strategy, Human Actions, and the Creation of Wealth, Mark L. Frigo and Joel Litman examined the financial performance of more than 15,000 public companies, using 30 years’ worth of data. They identified about 100 high-performing companies committed to creating long-term shareholder value by delivering a sustainable return on investment while demonstrating ethical business conduct.

These companies are successful because they don’t let upper management get complacent. When things are running smoothly, many bosses tend to relax, take it easy, and ignore people. Yet that’s exactly the time when problems are most likely to develop. Preventive maintenance pays big dividends when you’re working with machinery. It pays even bigger dividends when working with people.

People need attention the way a machine needs oil. A good mechanic doesn’t wait for the machine to break down before he gives it some attention. Instead, he watches for the least sign of wear and tear. Good bosses are mechanics who specialize in people. They know how to keep them pepped up and in good working order, and they’re always alert for signs of trouble or strain. They also notice when someone isn’t doing the job right and who needs help before there’s a serious problem or mistake. Continuous, well-meaning attention makes people feel needed, wanted, and important. It helps them work better and get more satisfaction out of their jobs.


As we all know, we’re living in a time of constant change and choice, and most of us have had to adjust both socially and professionally. That has affected the way we make decisions. We’re increasingly forced to take a shortcut approach in which a particular decision is based on a single piece of information. Usually, that information is reliable, but sometimes it isn’t.

Given the demands on our time, it’s more likely that this shortcut approach to decision making will increase proportionately. That makes it even more crucial to step back and rely on our skills of critical thinking to help manage our personal and professional issues effectively. At the same time, we need to pull the weeds of negativity from our minds, which will help lead to a fulfilling, purposeful life. Combine these two skills, and there’s no limit to your future success.

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