Cultivate Success with Positivity

Positive expectations lead to positive results. This is because confidence and energy increase when we believe in ourselves. Conversely, a negative outlook contributes to a lower chance of succeeding. Basically, with positivity, we are capable of whatever we believe we are capable of.

It makes sense, therefore, to create more opportunities to include positivity. This can manifest in many forms: attitude, environment, expectations, etc.

In recent years, it has become more difficult to maintain positive expectations as stress and uncertainty have skyrocketed as a result of the pandemic. Not surprisingly, there has been an increase in depression, suicide, drinking, and crime.

On one hand, we put up with and even enable negativity and bad behavior. For example, in recent weeks, a coached punched another coach, an actor hit another actor, and we allowed senators to act disgracefully while utterly disrespecting a Supreme Court nominee. While all of these occurrences should be intolerable, most of the reactions were minimal or people used it as material for humor. Bad behavior should not be tolerated the way it is.

Fortunately, to offset this, there have also been some recent examples that highlight how positive efforts can improve situations. One of the most incredible reactions to the challenges with Russia is the response of Poland and Ukraine. They have literally helped millions of refuges find food, shelter, clothing, and new lives in less than a month. Their efforts are proving we can be kind, caring, and positive in an environment that is sometimes completely chaotic.

So, how do we forge ahead with a positive outlook that encourages and fosters good behavior and successful results?

  • Be supportive. Watching parents and little kids is one of the best examples of executing positive expectations. Kids learning to talk, walk, or ride a bike are full of excitement and confidence. At the same time, parents are supportive, encouraging, and watching with glee. If we could support one another, both in and out of work, with this same enthusiasm, how much more successful could we all be?
  • Consider your perspective. A great (and often unused) tool for developing more positive solutions is to recognize parameters. The recent volatility in the stock market has been well documented. What is not clear is how to analyze and interpret it. For example, two publications reported results with different interpretations and perceptions. One reported that the S&P 500 increased 3.6% in March. The other reported that the S&P 500 declined 4.9 % in the quarter. Both are true, but the interpretation is different.
  • Weigh all the options. For example, going back to the office creates numerous positive opportunities while working from home has numerous cost, privacy, and lifestyle benefits. In particular, new technologies have made communication, sharing files, and interaction even better. However, being in the office encourages better culture and communication benefits. We must better understand situations, needs, and performance to develop the best solutions. Many decisions are based on tradition and opinions, but maximizing the alternatives can have great benefits. Which option produces the most positive results?
  • Get out of your comfort zone. Take risks, shake things up, and avoid getting stuck in a rut. This is how we continue to challenge ourselves and foster growth. Risk needs to managed rather than feared. Understanding the risk, the rewards, and the importance of each can help you improve outcomes. Don’t allow fear, uncertainty, or tradition to lower your potential and prevent you from trying something new. The positive: no matter the results, you have gained valuable tools that will help you to continue improving.
  • Take advantage of opportunities. We’ve had a lot of disruption lately and that can often feel like a challenge rather than an opportunity. But, in my own experience with corporate turnarounds, it’s much easier to motivate, innovate, and develop collaboration in troubled or changing organizations than within those whose culture is based on the closed-minded rule of “we’ve always done it this way.” It’s amazing how many individuals and organizations have incorporated new efforts like E-commerce, work-from-home, Zoom, etc. in order to adapt to the times and, consequently, have actually improved their results.

All of this isn’t to say that every situation should be met with a naive sense of positivity. There are, of course, situations that are very nuanced and require more than a “just look on the bright side” response. Negative emotions should be addressed and we should always try to respond to distress with empathy rather than false reassurances.

In the end, however, looking for the positive rather than focusing on the negative usually gets us further in the long run. I think we can all agree that we’re happier when there are good things happening. So, let’s not only look for the positive, but help put more positivity out there through our work, thoughts, words, and actions.

Related: Recognize and Avoid Denial in Business Decisions