Positive thinking combines attitude with action. People often describe another person as having a positive or negative attitude. What does that mean? It essentially means the way the person generally thinks and feels about people, events or things and those thoughts and feelings are reflected in their behaviour.
The way the person describes or acts toward someone or something or the way the person stands or sits often reveals their attitude. For instance, some people see any kind of change as negative or a threat, whereas others see it as a challenge or an opportunity; or they always view others or situations from a negative point of view rather than from a positive one. They become “picky, picky” rather than taking a balanced view of the person or situation. Because of their negative approach they are toxic to be around and are an energy drain in the workplace – and that goes for the ‘boss’, manager or employee.
From a personal growth and development perspective positive thinking is fundamentally about reviewing your thought processes and personal actions for areas that require improvement and for areas where you think, and act negatively and then turn around those negative thoughts and actions towards a more positive outcome.
11 Keys to Improving Positive Thinking
1. Have Confidence in Yourself and Your Products - One of the barriers to positive thinking is to lack confidence in yourself or your products. First, yourself – if you don’t believe in your business or the products you deliver, you will have a difficult time projecting a positive image to others about yourself or about your product.
The key here is that you need to believe in yourself and your product. I have helped hundreds of people establish a business. Often when it came time to make the leap from depending on others for their success (read, feeling secure in their job) to depending on themselves as a business owner, they were afraid to make the leap of faith. And that is okay because without that belief in self they were not ready to go on their own.
2. Expect to Succeed – When others have high expectations of you, you will attempt to rise to the level of their expectations. The same is true if they have low expectations of you – you will drop to the level of their expectations. This is known as the Pygmalion Effect and it has been tested time and time again. We can use the same approach within ourselves: If you expect to succeed and put in the effort you will succeed; and conversely if you don’t expect to succeed you may not – you may surprise yourself if you do succeed, but if you strongly feel that you will not succeed, you probably won’t. You have put a psychological barrier in front of you that will block you from moving forward in a positive way. The lesson here is to expect to succeed and reap the benefits of the Pygmalion Effect.
3. Have a Burning Ceremony - One of the exercises I introduced whenever I was dealing with a negative group of people was to have a burning ceremony. I had them list on a flip chart all the things that caused their negativity. I pointed out that all the things they identified were things of the past. I took all the flip chart papers and tore them in half indicating that they were things of yesterday, and yesterday is no longer here. I then took the group outside and put all the flipchart sheets in a bin and burned them. We then went back inside, and I said, “It was now time to move forward – to develop a new and better future. We cannot change the past we can wallow in it or we can accept it for what it is and move on. It was now time to take responsibility for your future.” This exercise was a welcomed catharsis for the group, and they were able to move on. To this day, I meet people who were members of those groups and they always reference that training event as the turning point in their team. You can follow this process as an individual. Just write down all the things that give you doubt and pain from the past and then burn the paper and move on.
4. Refocus on Possibilities – Now part of moving on is to write down all the things that you have achieved in the past and use these as steppingstones to strengthening your belief in yourself and building your confidence going forward. Then move onto number 5.
5. Visualize Your Future – Give yourself room to dream – without a dream you will not go far because a dream gives you reason to drive for success. Dreams leads to goals. And goals are the precursor to action. Don’t let your dream fade – set aside times to revisit it regularly. Draw a picture of what it will look like. Put it on a wall in front of you. State it in simple language… where do you see yourself professionally and personally in five years? See your business operating at peak performance. Describe what that looks and feels like? What do you need to do to achieve your dream? Identify your KSAVAs (Knowledge, skills, abilities, values, and attitudes) and set out the gaps you need to fulfill to achieve your dream. Then develop an action plan to reach your dream and close the KSAVA gaps.
6. Set SMART Goals and Action Plans – When setting goals don’t think about what is, think about what it looks like in the end. Don’t be confined by where you are at, your finances, your office space, whatever. Goals don’t define the present, they define the future. So don’t fall into the trap of ‘near sightedness’. Become a ‘far sighted’ goal setter. This is important because it allows you to focus on possibilities and achievements.
7. Beat Defeat - As you motor towards your future tuck in your brain that defeat is not an option. Detours yes. Defeat no. You can expect to make mistakes along the way, learn from them, correct them, move forward. You may also have unforeseen challenges both of a personal nature such as an illness or illness in your family, a downturn in the economy or a disaster caused by flooding, or whatever. View these as challenges and find solutions. Mistakes and challenges make you stronger and when you overcome them your confidence is strengthened. You may feel overwhelmed and frustrated at the beginning so take one step at a time. Find a way out of the difficult situation. This is all about becoming a self-leader and taking responsibility for your future.
8. Use Affirmations to Your Advantage - Stare defeat straight in the eye and if you are down or see things negatively use affirmations to turn your stinking thinking around. Sometimes people think that affirmations don’t work. I’m not one of them. I look to those successful people in sports, business and yes, in life. We have seen teams as they run onto the field shout out an affirmation such as, “Let’s go for the win,” or “We can do this.” They visualize the end goal and psych themselves up to achieve it. The same goes for individual sports. Before a run, or a skiing downhill race, individuals will visualize the run, and positively affirm themselves. Walk around a business and look at what is on its walls. Usually, you will see positive posters reinforcing strong customer service or motivational quotes. Why do they do this? Simply because affirmations work. They strengthen confidence, discipline, and resilience.
9. Turn Negatives into Positives – When your thought process begins to turn sour or you find yourself talking in a negative way it’s time to: a) eliminate negative words from your vocabulary, and b) refocus your energies on the positive aspects of the situation. Here are some turn around example:
Defeat thought: “My plan not succeed," or "I will fail”
Replacement thought: “My idea may not work the way I envisioned but I’m sure it will turn out equally as well, if not better.” Or “I may make mistakes along the way, but those I can correct and learn from.”
Defeat thought: “There is so much out there, nobody will buy my product."
Replacement thought: “My product may not not fit everyone's need but there are millions of people out there who will find that my product to their liking.”
Defeat Thought: “Selling is not my thing. I’m just not good at it.”
Replacement thought: “I'm going to take a course on selling and I will become the best salesperson on the block.”
10. Know the Difference Between Selling and Marketing - You may be good at marketing but not selling. Marketing is all about educating your potential customers about your product. Selling is closing the deal. The big thing about marketing and selling is to use all the avenues at your disposal to find customers, develop relationships with them, understand their needs, and ask for commitments to buy. Always remember, people buy for their reasons and not yours. So, when people are reluctant to buy ask yourself whether you have given sufficient information about your product, whether you have established a warm relationship and whether you understand their needs.
11. Avoid Negative People Who Are ‘Nay Sayers’ – When we are negative, we attract negative people; and, when we are positive, we attract positive people. Now ask yourself which group of people would you rather be with? Positive people help you grow and develop in a healthy way. Negative people reinforce your negative thoughts and feelings and drag you down. Sometimes it is hard to distance yourself from negative people; but if you want to grow and develop your business or change your lifestyle for the better then it becomes necessary to surround yourself with people who will help you build your business and support you in your changes.
Please stay safe and remember your personal growth and development matter.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article,