12 Principles of Personal Leadership: Principle 11—Relentlessly Positive

Do you see the glass as “half empty” or “half full”? Every day we decide how we will approach life in general and daily events and problems that we encounter. We can get up in the morning and choose to have a positive approach or a negative outlook, or we can make no decision about our attitude and just react to situations we encounter throughout the day. The third option usually “defaults” to negative.

How Your Approach Affects Your Ability to Be a Personal Leader

If you choose to be optimistic, you will search for the best in people and situations. Positivity can also determine our success as personal leaders and our degree of personal satisfaction. As a person with a positive mental attitude (PMA), even mediocre talents you possess will lead you to achieve great things if they’re coupled with enthusiasm.

 If you choose to be pessimistic, you will see the worst in others and daily events. A negative outlook can plague us with anxiety, disappointment, and general dissatisfaction. Even with incredible talent, a pessimist is often doomed to a life of mediocrity and ongoing frustration simply because they focus on the problems of the day rather than the possibilities of tomorrow.

We become a reflection of what we constantly dwell on. You can’t have a consistently negative outlook and expect good things to happen. It is like putting your car into reverse and expecting to go forward. Your mental attitude (positive or negative) is something only you can determine.

The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That

Theodor Geisel was positive he had a knack for writing children’s books, but his odd style was rejected repeatedly. In fact, his first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, was rejected twenty- seven times before he finally got a publishing offer from Vanguard Press.  Using the pen name Dr. Suess, he would later write and illustrate the beloved The Cat in the Hat, a beginning reader that solidified him as a definitive author and illustrator of children’s books.

Having optimism doesn’t mean that you ignore the gravity of any given problem or situation. It just helps you deal with those situations in a more constructive manner. Regardless of our personal outlooks, our lives are full of challenges. This personal leadership principle makes a difference in how we interpret and handle life’s events.

The Effects of Pessimism

 Being pessimistic is draining both mentally and physically. If you have a negative approach to life, it is important to retrain your thinking processes.  Whether you were born with a pessimistic outlook or became negative due to life events, it is never too late to change the way you view the world. Much like most other habits, this can be overcome.

Here are some tips for getting past chronic pessimism:

1.  Combat pessimism with genuine gratitude. It is hard to be negative when you are busy being thankful for the blessings in your life. Gratitude causes you to be thankful for what you DO have rather than dwelling on what you DON’T have. Unfortunately, we tend to take for granted the things we love until they are gone. Take the opportunity daily to express your thankfulness for the people and things you cherish most.

2.  Block out negative messages. Every day our minds are flooded with hundreds of messages from our phones, TVs, radios, computers, and print materials. Some are positive, but the majority are self-serving or negative. In order to maintain a positive outlook, we must effectively filter out many of the negative messages we are exposed to.  Be proactive by turning of shows, radio programs, or music that isn’t uplifting or productive. Skip the sensationalized news stories and gory details in newspapers or on the news channels and focus on those stories that directly affect your life. Ralph Waldo Emerson once penned, “A man is what he thinks about all day long.” Choose to think about things that will make you a better personal leader.

3.  Assess the way you react to daily situations to “retrain” your brain. After a situation or event occurs, stop to analyze your reaction. If it was initially negative, consider what good could be taken from the experience. Make a conscious effort to switch your focus early in the thought process. With time and persistence, you will see your outlook start to change from pessimistic to optimistic.

Only you can decide how you will view life and handle the daily problems that go with it. Make the choice to be a relentless optimist. It will benefit you both personally and in your professional leadership role. Be openly thankful for what you cherish most, selectively filter out negative messages, and perform frequent self-assessments to change the way you handle situations. Over time, you will be amazed at the difference a positive attitude can make.

Do you feel unhappy with the direction your life is going? We can help. Leadership Excellence of Medina, Ohio offers a variety of services, including leadership training in the areas of personal leadership, organizational leadership, effective communication, personal productivity, effective time management, sales training, management development and staff development. Contact us today to see how we can help your organization develop key leadership principles to obtain measurable results.