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?

A Negative People Morning

negative newsI don’t usually do this, but this morning I turned on the TV first thing and turned to the news.  What we were looking for was anything about the federal budget and possible government shutdown.  My wife, Sherry, works for the federal government and would likely be taking a break for a while if the government shuts down.  While she would eventually get paid, if it goes for any length of time that is income we don’t have.

On Facebook and other social media, where there never seems to be an end to the political experts anxious to share their opinions with you, there have been all kinds of commentary about this event and most of it negative.  It’s unavoidable as we live in a negative world.

Don’t Let Negative People Define You

But you and I, we are positive people.  We believe in keeping a positive attitude.  And in this negative world, even having a positive attitude can have a bad rap.  Over the years, I have read and listened to plenty of Norman Vincent Peale and many others who remind us and equip us to have a positive attitude in everything we do.  The negative clans are quick to attack this attitude as a head in the sand approach, or a Pollyanna note outlook on life, or looking at the world through rose-colored glasses.  According to them, we fail to face the realities of life; or at least reality as defined by them.

In truth, having a positive attitude is none of these things.  We don’t hide our heads hoping bad things will just go away.  We don’t ignore the challenges of this world or government shutdowns or bad economies or falling job markets.  We simply refuse to let them define our lives; we stay true to who we are, what we are, and whose we are.  Maintaining a positive attitude doesn’t mean we ignore the world; quite the contrary.  We see the world and we intend to change it!  And we start with ourselves!

Our biggest battle will be the negative people who surround us.  Make no mistake about it, NEGATIVE PEOPLE SUCK!  They just suck the life right out of you and your hopes and dreams.  And they will hammer their message at you continually trying to break you down until you think like they do.  You have heard that misery loves company?  Believe it!  They want you on their side.

avoid negative people, stay positiveDon’t be Anakan, be Luke!  Refuse to cross over to the dark side!

Getting Away from the Influence of Negative People

So how to do we avoid letting negative people impact our lives?  Ultimately, it’s going to rely on your will and desire to stay positive, but here’s a few things that will help.

  1. Stop watching the news!  I mentioned at the beginning that I almost never turn on the TV news in the morning.  It’s not that I am trying to ignore what’s happening in the world, it’s just that I don’t see the need to fill my mind with the full-force negativity of broadcast news.
  2. When a negative thinker starts to share their downer philosophy of life, don’t agree with them.  At the time, it will seem like the quickest and easiest way to get ride of them, but it’s not.  As soon as you agree with them, they think they have an ally and will be coming to you more often.
  3. Don’t argue with a negative thinker; you can’t win.  If you disagree, they want to engage in an argument and come up with more reasons why you should believe they way they do.  Negative doesn’t give up that easy.
  4. Don’t minimize their complaints either.  If you minimize it, they will simply try to come up with more reasons why they are right.
  5. Be sympathetic to what they are saying, but try to re-direct them more to the task at hand.
  6. Always be on a deadline.  “I understand how you are feeling, it must be frustrating.  Please excuse me, I need to focus on this project right now because I gotta have it done by the end of the day.”  The more that you can do that, the more leverage it gives you to excuse yourself away from those situations.
  7. Seek affirmations.  That negative input is going to impact you so you need to seek positive affirmations that are going to help build up your positive thoughts again so you can stay focused on your goals.

Action Plan

  1. Starting tonight, read or listen to something positive just before you go to bed.  Ideally, a self-affirmation script is key because it plants positive thoughts into the subconscious that burned in while you sleep.  It also gets anything negative off your mind before you put you head on the pillow.
  2. Starting tomorrow, read or listen to something positive immediately after you wake up.  Don’t turn on the TV; at least not yet.  Motivational recordings or books, or simply look yourself in the mirror and remind yourself that you are going to have a great day, that you will overcome any obstacles that get in your way, that you will love and care for your family and friends, that you will take care of all your big rocks on the day and add value to everyone you meet.
  3. Avoid the negative thinkers by focusing on the task at hand.  ALWAYS have something to do that requires your immediate attention.
P.S.  While people use the term Pollyanna negatively, as if to assert that being optimistic and looking for the good is wrong,  I have never had an issue with this.  Call me a Pollyanna, I embrace it gladly!