Written by: Larysa Slobodian, MA Executive Coach and Leadership Consultant
Reviewed by: Olena Bidovanets, MD, MPH
I want to start this article out with a story. It is an ordinary day on the streets of your town and you are taking a walk. Suddenly, the weather changes and what was a mild, sunny day changes and it begins to rain. With each passing step, you notice the rain increasing and people on the street are running and looking for cover. Something interesting though is occurring. Two people are not actually running. As you get closer, you can see what each of these people is doing and it is fascinating. What is happening?
I will return to the story in just a moment. First, there is some information that I’ve heard circulating around the news, in conversations and within organizations. People are discussing all of the concerns about what’s happening in the world and what’s going to happen. To be more specific, I hear people talking about all the bad things that are about to happen. They talk with such certainty. Problems, problems, problems followed by fear, doom and sometimes resignation and maybe even pride, as if they have discovered some important future predication. AND they seem to want to bring people along into their circle of doom. Maybe you have noticed these conversations, or even participated in some of them.
Yes there have been and there are terrible things happening in the world right now. Yes, there could be terrible things happening tomorrow and your life can be impacted. But what is a leader to do in these difficult times? I want to encourage you all, (and if you’re reading this article, then I’m assuming that you want to grow as a leader, be better and DO better). I want to invite you to use a leadership superpower and it is one of the most misunderstood superpowers that is available to you. What is that super power? Stay POSITIVE! Let me explain what being positive is and what it is NOT.
First, being positive does not mean being happy all the time. It does not mean looking on the bright side all the time. In fact only having the capacity to be happy or seeing only the bright side can lead you down the river of denial and cause you to appear incapable of dealing with difficulties. It is not realistic to always be happy. Also, I do not wish you a life of only happiness as this is not what life is. Life is challenging with times of deep sadness, disappointment, frustration and danger. If you are really living, then you are going to run into these experiences. Great leaders find ways to grow from these experiences, not deny them. Life is not about avoiding difficult things. It is about working through them, growing while also truly appreciating the good times, good people and great lessons. Happiness and joy are also part of life and I absolutely would like you to have a life filled with joy, happiness, love and many wins. Life is all of these things.
Having a positive mindset means that you are open to possibilities, that you are open to things getting better, and that you are open to being better. The creators of positive thinking never intended for us to walk around happy all day. My approach has been influenced by many great academics including one of the recognized founders of positive thinking movement, Professor Martin Seligman at The University of Pennsylvania who cites optimism as a critical attribute for creating positivity. I also appreciate the work of one of his well known students, Angela Duckworth, wrote about the importance of working through challenging times. In her book Grit, she describes “Grit” as a critical attribute for working through tough times and finding success in life.
It has never been easier to go with the crowd because the crowd is in your face all day long through the news, media, social media and of course email and texts that come to you begging you to focus on how we are all “screwed”. However, can I offer you some good news? It is also an exceptional time to stand out and be an energy “attractor”, creator and giver. I am asking you the following. Do not allow yourself to fall victim in your mentality. Always, stand on guard at the entrance to your mind, your beliefs and your actions. Be super careful and choosy about which thoughts you allow yourself to grab onto. Go deep inside of your best self and create the thoughts that will get you on the path to your better self, your big dreams, while offering the world tremendous value. Offer your best to humanity and be the worlds humble helper.
Remember, along this path, people will ridicule you. They may call you names and accuse you of being naïve. The “realists” of the world will tell you that you’re living in fantasy because they want you to join them on the bemoaning of their own reality. Let them have their reality. You know that you’re not naïve. Consider these people to mostly be detractors from doing your best work. Stay committed to being free of those beliefs.
Nobody ever achieved anything great by thinking “we’re screwed”. Instead, I offer you these mindset substitutes to get you from Negative Mindset to a Positive Leadership Mindset, for those times when the outer or inner gremlins reach in and try and grab hold of you.
Instead of: We can’t
Practice: What can we try?
Instead of: There are problems
Practice: What is possible?
Instead of: I am alone
Practice: I have my back
Instead of:It’s too much
Practice:What’s the first step?
Instead of: The economy is bad
Practice: Let’s get creative
Instead of: Business is leaving us behind
Practice: Let’s learn new skills
Instead of: The past, the future
Practice: The present
Instead of: I should have
Practice: I will
Instead of: I don’t know what will happen?
Practice: I will do my best right now
Instead of: What if it doesn’t work?
Practice: I will learn from my experiences
Instead of: Energy vampires
Practice: Energy giving (starting with yourself)
Instead of: I wish someone would give me
Practice: Give to others what you most want
Instead of: Problems
Practice: What would make it better?
No doubt, we all go through tough times. Maybe you’re going through a tough time right now. I know it can feel incredibly difficult and there may be times when you cannot imagine things being any better. I personally know and have experienced these times and feelings. Life can be painful. But don’t let that stop you from fighting for a better tomorrow. Remember, “When going through hell, keep going”, Winston Churchill. Never in all of my years of working with leaders (hundreds if not thousands of leaders) have I ever had anybody share that they appreciate how negative a another person is. People appreciate and are drawn to helpers, creators, problems solvers and those willing to accept the challenge.
Now back to our story. Remember, it is raining hard and there are two people on the street. As you get closer, you can understand what is happening. The rain continues. One person, is shouting how hard the rain is coming down and that it is probably going to keep raining like this for several hours. “You’re all going to get wet!” You then notice that there is another person on the street. This person is not yelling about the rain. In fact, this person is smiling while the rain continues to come down even harder. This person seems to be doing something. You look closer and you see just what is happening. This person is handing out umbrellas. Now I ask you, which person will you run towards? Who would you rather be your leader, your friend, your partner?
In this world filled with announcers about all of the rain, I encourage you to focus on the opportunity that comes from each challenge; options not problems, possibilities not paralysis. Be the one handing out umbrellas and doing it with a smile. Believe in a better future and act today as if it is certain to happen.
Would you like to learn more about how to create this positive mindset superpower? Would you like to create team or organization with Positive Mindset? I am happy to be of service. You can do this! I am here to help.
Thank you for reading, sharing and for your thoughts in the comments below..
Wherever you are, I am sending you support, compassion and positive open energy!
Your coach, fan and friend,
Larysa Slobodian, MA
L4 Leadership LLC