Have you tried being positive?

Photo by Peter Hershey on Unsplash

There are some entrepreneurs out there than look at everything pessimistically.

Recently I got in a discussion with one who was very suspicious of an ‘industry expert’ who wanted to connect after a presentation — did they want a piece of his company? Are they selling something he doesn’t want? Do they just want a job? He threw away the contact without giving it another thought. What struck me was how quickly he came up with the reason, and how negative each one was. Sure he might be right, but that person might have approached because he legitimately wanted to help.

It’s crazy to me how negative some people can be —to these people, everything that happens can only happen because people are evil. Seems like a terrible way to live (and a terribly way to approach your business). Do these reactions look familiar?

Email comes in. Oh god, what do they want now? I’m swamped, can’t I get a moment of peace?

Customer flags something out of the ordinary. This person is SO difficult, why is this happening to me?

Can’t meet a deadline. I’m a complete failure. Why am I not a superhero like my other peers in the industry?

Client says no. Another rejection. That’s it, might as well plan for bankruptcy now.

It’s all too common (and maybe it’s all true), but ultimately it’s only one perspective. What if we were to take a step back, figure out why the response was received and what it could also mean?

Let’s take a look if we were instead optimistic — the same information is being discovered (no more, no less), but the perspective is instead positive.

Email comes in. More work, great. I might not be getting off work anytime soon, but at least it’s because I have a job that needs me (and maybe a company that can’t function without me!).

Customer flags something out of the ordinary. This is different. Maybe there’s an opportunity to try some new and expand the service/offerings of the company!

Can’t meet a deadline. This sucks. Let me flag this early with the client, we have a good relationship and it’s been one that’s built on trust and honesty. It will sting when I tell them, but it won’t be the end of the world.

Client says no. Not yet. How can I change my pitch, bring in new ideas and sell in a better offering? Is there something else being communicated here that I should explore deeper?

In all these cases, the different approaches don’t end with a horrendous death (or worse, horrible situation but kept alive). The only thing that has changed is that they’re spending an extra beat weighing out the meaning of the response and looking at the potential positive. With positivity, the way you approach a problem or follow up is very different — it might end up being a great opportunity waiting to be uncovered.

Sometimes, we adopt a negative attitude as soon as we get out of bed. When that’s the case it’s very difficult to get out of the negative funk. It takes real mindfulness to realise that it’s going to affect you all day, and you should take steps to avoid it (I realise this is easier said than done).

Here are some things to consider, when you’re in a bad/negative mood. Hopefully the consistent practice will lead you to a better place.

Take an extra beat to consider alternatives

Try not to make snap judgements. You never immediately know where someone’s thoughts are coming from. Maybe they’re just having a bad day, maybe the tone was misinterpreted over email (we’ve all done this) or maybe a typo led to an idea not being articulated correctly (we’ve definitely all done this).

Take an extra couple seconds to consider some alternatives. I’m not saying you should step back and laugh about the situation, but you should consider that your initial impression was wrong. What harm is a couple extra seconds going to do (usually no worse, and sometimes more good).

Be grateful

Consider that you’re lucky to be where you are. No matter how bad the situation may be, it could be worse (same situation except homeless and on fire for example). Be mindful that things are rarely as bad as they seem and be grateful that you’re in the situation that you are (and not in a worse one).

It’s also good to realise that everyone around you seems to be successful because you only ever hear about the success stories — not nearly enough people talk about their failures (and we all know there are more failures than successes). Stop comparing yourself to others, and stop feeling sorry for yourself — both these things are putting you in a negative state of mind.

Be mindful

Approach everything with intention. Nobody has all the answers, you can only approach each project as honestly and as best you can. People don’t get in trouble because they tried too hard. Be honest, if you have frustrations you should share them, and be purposeful in everything you do.

Business owners and employees would do much better if they stopped being negative all the time. A little more positivity never hurt (but too much positivity, that can be annoying:)).

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by 322,555+ people.

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