Moments of uncertainty: How positivity can go a long way

Our theme for this week’s news revolves around conflict and I thought why not expand on this topic for a blog discussion on negativity  and how it can lead to pessimism which can then distract or even deter you from achieving goals or taking on new challenges, whether in your personal life or in the workplace.

I read an article recently in Careerealism that gets us to take a look at the difference between positive, optimistic people and negative, pessimistic people:

Positive, optimistic people:

• Tend to see problems, failures and setbacks as temporary.

• See problems, failures and setbacks as isolated occurrences.

• Don’t take problems, failures and setbacks personally.

Negative, pessimistic people:

• Tend to see problems failures and setbacks as permanent – almost their destiny.

• See problems, failures and setbacks as omnipresent – things from which you can’t escape.

• Personalize problems, failures and setbacks.

Of course it can be hard not to get upset or even take things personally when issues occur. We are emotional beings and we have a right to express ourselves. The hardest part however, can be letting the issue go. You may see this in others at work, the ones who are constantly complaining or who may not be able to see the bright side of a situation and can easily turn a triumph into failure.

The article goes on to describe that ‘pessimism can cause the success hinge to rust and become difficult to swing.’ To give an example I was reading a book a little while ago on ‘training tips for trekkers’ while preparing for my next personal adventure. Now, while the exercise tips and healthy eating were very important aspects of the book, the writer also covered having a healthy attitude and mindset, especially in the event that something did not go according to plan.

Of course the natural reaction is to see the worst in the situation. But the more one person begins complaining about a situation or the more they start to instill fear and doubt into the group environment, the more the group begins to breakdown. Fights occur (blaming one another), individuals start to become emotional and eventually people start to give up because it gets to be ‘too hard’ to deal with. This situation can take place in the office too!

With anything in life, there will always be an element of uncertainty, however, remaining in a state of calm and keeping your mind open to opportunity during the ‘storm’ is so important, especially when working in a team.

I went on a hike in Fiji over the Easter long weekend and we had one full day hike of 8 hours to the next village. Our group of 19 travelers were delayed that morning due to one of our transport trucks not arriving to take us to the beginning of our trail, so we had to take two trips to the starting point.

Our second issue was that our itinerary was based on a hike that was conducted in November last year, and as it was ‘wet season’ over Easter, the terrain was extremely muddy and hard to climb. This slowed us down, not by minutes but by hours.

While I was extremely tired, hungry and frustrated in my mind (as any person would be), I made the conscious effort not to voice my frustration, fears, doubt, or even try to blame the organiser for what had happened because I knew we were all in this together and that eventually (even if it wasn’t according to plan) we would make it out together.

I was amazed at how well this team worked together! Individuals that barely knew one another were looking after each other like they were family. If you were thirsty someone offered you water, if you fell over someone was there to pick you up and people were sharing stories and playing games along the way to keep our minds awake and active. The level of positivity and mateship was incredible. And believe it or not, a positive atmosphere spreads. I was then helping others along the walk and encouraging others who were struggling and now our group has a very interesting story to share with others.

If there is one major thing I have learned about shaking away a negative mindset is that it needs to be up to you to do so. No one else can make that decision but you, so next time you are starting to feel this negativity creep in, start looking into ways to turn it around:

• If you have been knocked back on a project ask for feedback on how you could improve for next time.

• If you are constantly surrounded by someone negative who puts you down then start surrounding yourself with more positive encouraging people who will help you along your path to success.

• If you are dwelling on a difficult task or something that is causing you a lot of anxiety start reviewing ways to handle it.

• Offer encouragement and assistance to others if you see that they are struggling with something or if they start isolating themselves from the group.

But most importantly, keep your mind open to possibilities, otherwise you could miss out on opportunity that is right in front of you.

Having a positive mindset will be a greater asset to your team and your productivity than a negative one. I like to start the day by reading an inspirational quote from someone of influence. What are some of the things you do on a daily basis to get the most out of your day?