Communication & Alignment

Positive Thinking in a Negative World

If you twitter, you are constantly reading quotes that espouse positive thinking. Some quotes are age old and some are brand new, but  they mostly convey the sentiment-you are what you think, so think  positive. Do you ever wonder if all those people that post those  statements live that happy, positive, empowered life they like to talk  about?

Day to day life isn’t quite so rosy all the time. In fact, I spent a  lot of my life being the glass-half-empty person, known as a bit of a  perfectionist. I am fortunate to often exceed my clients expectations,  but the truth is, it is hard to meet my own. That said, I have learned a  lot about life by just living it. And one of the things I have learned  is that while the world is far from perfect, positive thinking really  does make just about everything better.

Some people may glide through life untouched by tough times. These  days, those folks are pretty rare. Let’s face it, everybody, even the  happiest of people, have a bad day now and then.  Maybe you don’t feel well, run into surly employees at the airport, your top salesman just  resigned, or you get the latest sales report-everyday bad stuff. Or  maybe you have been fired, or have a life threatening health issue.

Me, well I lived a charmed life for a  long time, but I have also had  some big challenges;  my second child is “special needs”, we have had  more than one “career transition” in our family, and I beat breast  cancer last year. So I have a little experience discovering the benefits  of being positive in a negative world.  So here is what I have learned:

1. Being positive is a choice; you can’t control what happens but you  do control how you respond. Dwelling on the negative begets…..what?  Nothing good. It isn’t always easy to see the best in a less than  perfect situation…but it is always the better alternative. What can be  gained by focusing on the negative? Sales down? Ok. Bad deal. But there  are at least a dozen things you can do about it–pick two and do them  with a smile and a passion. Attitude is contagious. You might be  surprised at the result! If you aren’t sure what to do, ask your  employees, your advisory board or a consultant.

2. Ego is a dangerous thing. One of the most cited pieces of advice  from our CEO interviews is, that as a leader, you can’t afford to have  an ego. Now, I don’t know about you, but I suspect some people who claim  not to have any, have some. It is hard to know where confidence stops  and ego starts. The question is, do you do what you do to make you happy, or to spread confidence and encouragement-to your employees,  your customers, your shareholders?  One of the secrets of successful  business leaders is exactly that; they have a way of getting people to  give their best, maybe more than they thought they were capable of.  Their employees do it because they feel valued, relevant and cared  about. It is hard to do that if you have a big ego.

3. Finally, a positive spirit goes a long way toward building  productive relationships. You are a product of the ten people you spend  the most time with. So who do you choose to hang out with? At the  office? In your social life? When I figured this out, I purposely  determined who I wanted to spend time with-sought a mentor, spent time  learning from others, and invested more time in my family. My  perspective is it makes a difference-I am a better and more positive  person than I was before. I believe every day will work out just exactly  right, that if one door shuts another will open, if one way doesn’t  work, another will, that I can make a positive contribution to everyone I  come in contact with, and that when I mess up, I will seek a chance to  make it up. That type of attitude doesn’t come easily for a  perfectionist, but it certainly makes weathering mildly tough days, or  major life storms much more bearable. It makes me a better friend,  mentor, advisor and consultant. Much more is accomplished when you  believe you can be a part of a solution instead of just complain about  the problem.

In summary, we all live in the same world, deal with the same  economy, have bad days and some tough experiences. It is how we choose  to deal with them that will have much to do with our success. In  closing, here are some of those inspirational quotes.

An organization’s ability to  learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate  competitive advantage. ~ Jack Welch

The reward of a thing well done, is to have done it. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The happiness of a man in this life does not consist in the absence but in the mastery of his passions. ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson

A new day has dawned, and you can choose to make it the best day ever. ~ Anonymous

Believe you can and you will. ~ Margaret Reynolds

Article written by Margaret Reynolds

Category: Communication & Alignment Leadership Competencies

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About the Author: Vistage Staff

Vistage facilitates confidential peer advisory groups for CEOs and other senior leaders, focusing on solving challenges, accelerating growth and improving business performance. Over 2…

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  1. It’s about using a little time for some meditation and while you are doing it think positively. Do this at the start of the day and you will set yourself up.


  2. It’s about using a little time for some meditation and while you are doing it think positively. Do this at the start of the day and you will set yourself up.


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