Have you ever had a bad day? week? month? year? Well, that’s common as we are exposed to a lot of negative messaging and uncertainty in our businesses and lives. Shifting social/political/economic trends, thousands of daily media messages, hundreds of emails and texts, very few of which deliver messages of good cheer. A study from a US-based family research institute revealed that even the average family says ten negative messages to every positive one. John Gottman Ph.D., researcher and psychologist, finds that it takes five positives to erase every one negative. Psychologist, Marcial Losada, Ph.D., used mathematical modelling to determine there is a ratio of three positive comments, experiences or expressions to fend off the languishing effects for one negative. It’s clear we have many circumstances to X-Out the negatives in our personal and professional lives.
As I work with leaders in many industries, I continually find that no one is immune from the need to develop the art of digesting massive doses of negativity. Health in the storm requires developing the right perspective toward problems, life, people, time, and our self-image. I’ve heard it said that … our attitude determines our altitude in life. John Milton wrote in Paradise Lost that, “The mind is its own place, and in itself, can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”
Our negative attitudes, thoughts, and emotions can cause us to live well below our abilities and keep us from achieving great things. Life has a way, if we are not careful and diligent, of bringing us into a form of subtle bondage where our attitudes and thoughts hold us in the vice-like grip of ineffectiveness, frustration, and possibly even depression. (Future Achievement Int.) In 2004, a Harvard University Crimson poll revealed that 4 in 5 Harvard students suffered from depression once in a school year. Depression rates today are ten times what they were in 1960. (Peterson, C. et.al. 2005) In Canada, we hear that 1 in 5 will experience clinical depression in their lives. When this occurs, the consequences for our productivity and our ability to rise to a level of personal excellence can be disastrous.
It’s important to admit that we are all going to have negative, challenging events that may even hurt us, occur in our businesses and beyond. That is life! We all struggle through difficult times. One of the major secrets to maximizing our character and personal leadership effectiveness (PLE) is in the way we learn to deal with negativity.
You may share the observation I have that some people seem to be reservoirs of negativity. They seem to be filled with an endless stream of criticism, discouragement, rumours and innuendos…all intended to keep trouble stirred up. When this type of person enters our businesses or lives, we must find ways to filter out their negativity to avoid being pulled down and risk having the joy of being ripped away. If not, we risk becoming infected and spreading the same disease.
Negativity Must Be Erased… X-Out
Here’s a simple analogy, you’ll notice that almost every pencil has an eraser to remove a writing mistake. In a sense, the eraser is there to help X-Out the Negative result and allow for the creation of a positive and successful result. Every human being has an “eraser.” It is our free will to erase certain mistakes made or bad attitudes we are exposed to. We can choose to allow the negative stuff to cause us fear, anxiety, and discouragement. Or we can choose to X-Out the Negatives in life and focus on the things and people that are positive, affirming, and encouraging.
The point in that we all have the choice to “erase” what we want and create and make better personal and professional circumstances. I’ve found great relevance in supporting business leaders and their teams in personal and team leadership effectiveness with Dr. Ron Jenson’s work…
ABC’s of X-Out the Negatives
Accept Problems – don’t deny them, because in reality, work and life often have difficulties and what we make of them depends on the challenges we choose to accept or seek. Small house… small problems; big house… big problems.
- Learn from mistakes. That’s where innovation comes from. Fail fast, fail often, but always fail forward.
- Choose to be positive in all circumstances. That is a choice we can all make in each moment and situation.
- Take risks… It keeps us on our toes. When we make prudent decisions, smart choices and take leaps of faith, then we can really live full and productive lives.
Believe the Best
- Believe and affirm every day that we are significant and that we have soft spots (weaknesses) to conquer methodically with new habits.
- Believe that others are around to help, not harm. When we trust ourselves and others, much more will be achieved.
- Take the right view toward life by being thankful (Grateful). According to psychologist Robert Emmons Ph.D. (2007), “Grateful people are more energetic, emotionally intelligent, forgiving, and less likely to be depressed, anxious or lonely. Few things in life are as integral to our well being.”
Cast Off the Negatives
- Reject your fears. As Zig Ziglar says, “Fear is the darkroom where negatives are developed.” Most of what we fear will never happen.
- Root out doubt… which often stems from cognitive thinking distortions. Dr. Dave Burns has many solid remedies in his text ‘Feeling Good’.
- Realize the possibilities and practice positive, accurate thinking. Author Joseph Campbell said: “Our experiences push us to new levels and create numerous opportunities for each of us to grow. We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
In order to maximize our personal and professional leadership effectiveness, it is critical to learn to X-Out the Negatives and seek opportunities for growth and advancement. As Isaac Singer, writer and philosopher once said, “If you keep saying things are going to be bad, you have a good chance of becoming a prophet.”
As the encircling tsunami of negativity nears, resist the manifestation of pessimism, fear and negativity. Take a moment to reflect on the productivity that is lost by employees who possess pessimistic attitudes. A negative attitude or outlook takes a vast amount of energy to keep up and the toll on relationships that comes out of this can be enormous. Often the negative stuff that happens to us is within our control and we will have to determine how best to resolve it and turn it around for good. Jenson’s ABS’s to X-Out the Negatives offer sound instruction on how to withstand storms of negativity and discover opportunities to build both our character and personal leadership effectiveness to advance our goals in life, personally and professionally.
Albert Einstein said: “Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
David W. Smith, B.Comm, CMC, ACC, RPM. Principal, Logia Consulting Inc. “emPOWERING Leaders… with Human Capital Consulting, Coaching and Training” firstname.lastname@example.org 306.373.1998