How to Get Better Ideas

positive thinking yields brighter ideasWho gets better ideas, the positive person or the negative person?  A traditional saying is that “necessity is the mother of invention”; in other words, great ideas are spurred by need.  On the surface, that seems negative but actually the opposite is true.  Taking action happens from a positive attitude.  The negative attitude simply sees the need but the positive attitude not only sees the need but also believes fully that there is a solution if they only look long enough and hard enough to find it.  The negative person gives up, the positive person gives more.

I also believe BETTER ideas come from a positive attitude.  The positive thinker is outward focused and sees possibilities in every situation.  This ignites the thinking processes that want to find not just the easiest way but the best way and they will look at multiple options; not rejecting anything until they determine which will work best.  The negative thinker looks for the easy way out, doubting that anything will work and why not choose the path of least resistance.  This concept is born out in research, as I noted in yesterdays blog, Bouncing Back.  The positive person is simply in a better position to see options and make the most effective choice.  They are also more likely to execute it, which after all is the point.  No solution works if you don’t implement it.  Earlier in the week I mentioned a quote by Zig Ziglar that applies so well here:

“Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.”

Pollyanna Was Right

pollyanna showed positive thinking in all situationsMany people use the term Pollyanna-ish to denote an idea or person who seems to be unreasonably positive.  This is based on the book and movie Pollyanna about a girl who goes to live with a relative in a town that is struggling and her constant positive outlook befriends everyone in town.  Many see Pollyanna’s attitude as almost a head in the sand, ignore the bad things and look at the good things attitude and see it as non-productive and certainly not results oriented.  So typically, referring to something as Pollyanna-ish is meant to be a derogatory term.  I think the opposite is true.  It’s not ignoring the situation, it’s simply refusing to accept it as final.  It is always seeing possibilities.  Being a Star Trek fan, I have to try and fit in a quote here from James T. Kirk (paraphrased a bit):

“I don’t believe in a no win scenario. I like to think there are always possibilities.”

A positive attitude allows you to reach high and overcome odds, it allows you to look for and see the best in people instead of the worst.  It also means you EXPECT the best from people and not the worst.  When you expect the best and make that clear in the way you treat people, most will go out of their way to live up to your expectation.  Will some disappoint you and break your heart? Sure, it’s inevitable.  But it is still better than expecting the worst in everyone else, treating them accordingly, and never being surprised or disappointed.  Expecting the worst in others brings out the worst in you.  Expecting the best in yourself and others creates a world of potential and possibilities that the worst can never bring you.

Think about your employees or colleagues in the workplace.  Do you expect the best from them?  Do you show that by treating them with respect, by giving them YOUR best?  Do you make your expectations clear?  How do you support them?  Encourage them?  Equip them?  As soon as you believe in possibilities and show that daily, they will too and it will show as they strive to constantly meet your expectations.

Action Plan

  1. Apply the thought “always possibilities” to a particular problem you are facing.
  2. Think about how you can give your best to your employees or colleagues. Determine your first step and do it.
  3. How can you communicate your expectations without being aggressive or offensive?