Purpose is the stuff of action. Any meaningful endeavor is powered and pushed by some motivating force, some intentional process that desires a specific end.
Everyone has bad days. I tell my employees that everyone has “stuff” – things in life that make us mad or hurt or frustrated, people and relationships that confuse us or distract us, circumstances that we can’t control or can’t find a way to change. Stuff. Outside the the associate entrance to our building, there is a bench with some brightly colored cushions. I tell my employees that when they show for work everyday, that bench is for them to put their “stuff” on while they get busy doing their jobs. It’ll be there for them all day, and they can take it home with them when they want. They can even visit it for ten or fifteen minutes during the day. But they have to leave it on the bench.
A positive outlook on life, and mental approach to the daily grind that sees the opportunity in situations rather than the potential for failure – this doesn’t happen accidentally, and it doesn’t happen naturally. Life gets busy reminding us of our “stuff” and taking our focus off of the good things around us. If we don’t make a point of changing our perspective from the “stuff” that frustrates us and confuses us and hurts us to the good things in our lives, then we lose the ability to stay consistently positive throughout life’s changes and challenges.
Pick a happy word for yourself. Mine is “wonderful.” People ask me how I’m doing all the time. At work, at the store, when I talk to my kids, when I get home after a long day – “How are you?” is the most loaded question in the world. Why? Because every time it gets asked, we have to choose whether to answer honestly and spill all of the “stuff” or to smile and say, “Wonderful!” So I decided to pick a happy word. It’s my fail safe – I’ve trained myself to answer the same way every time I hear the question. No matter what’s going on, no matter how I’m actually feeling, when I get asked, I answer, “Wonderful!”
I know you’re questioning my sincerity. I don’t blame you – on the surface this seems disingenuous. But the more I tell people how well I’m doing, the better I actually feel. And that happens on purpose. It’s not an accident, it’s not a state of mind, it’s a decision. A decision to think, act, and talk positively.
How do you stay positive day-in and day-out? What’s your positive thinking secret?
It’s one of the easiest cliché’s to throw out when you’re trying to motivate a group, generate some participation, or hold an audience’s interest. The power of positive thinking is a force that can’t be denied, but, perhaps stronger still, the power of the idea of positive thinking.
The benefit of positive thinking is the impact that it has on your attitude and perspective on circumstances and relationships. It’s a game-changer. Often, those who bring a sincere attitude of positive thinking to the table are in the minority and it will set them apart from the skepticism and second-guessing that plagues mediocre leadership.
Most important, however, to the success of an attitude of positive thinking is that it spring from a place of true sincerity. As a leader, your positive attitude toward the circumstances your organization faces must be honest and legitimate. Difficult situations have an erosive effect on the mindset of a group of individuals. If your leadership is simply paying lip-service to the culture of positive thinking you’re trying to cultivate, a few bumps in the road will quickly undermine your facade.
Massive damage is done to an organization when the leadership preaches positive thinking in word only, and not in truth, and when negative circumstances reveal the charade. Hypocrisy comes at a high price to those in leadership, and it’s supremely difficult to regain the relationship equity with your team once the lack of sincerity has been brought to light.
More good can not be done for your team, however, than when they see you, in the midst of a storm, standing firm and consistent on the principles of positive thinking. No great speech in the world can act as effectively a catalyst for your organization as for them to see their leader, true to his word, positive and undaunted in the face of the greatest adversity.
Sincerity, in this as in all things, is the backbone of principle. For until the principle has been tested and proven, it is only a notion. Be a leader. Be positive. Be sincere.