I never thought I was Little Miss Sunshine but apparently I am a very positive person (my husband may chortle at this one). Like all of us, I have my moments of negativity and, being quite an intuitive person, I know I can be very easily influenced by the emotions of others around me. However, I have never really seen myself as particularly optimistic. A couple of years ago I worked with a fantastically positive person who really inspired me to look on the bright side and not dwell like a negatively Nellie. Since then, I have made a concerted effort to be a positive influence on others and actively look at my own moods. That said, I still hadn’t picked myself as a Pollyanna playing the glad game.
This week I had two of my peers comment on, and joke about, my ability to see the positives in others. It made me realise that yes, my default position is to see the good in others and assume good intentions. I don’t quite know if I can go through life otherwise! However, it would be remiss of me not to consider that this trait can also be a weakness. That is why I work with one colleague in particular who is like the yin to my yang. His default position is not to be disappointed by others. Believe it or not, I find this refreshing. I like that we complement each other and it has led me to reflect on the importance of having a diverse and complementary team. It has been said that all of us should work with others whose strengths are our weaknesses. It’s not always an easy task to admit our weaknesses, but in doing so, we release ourselves from the burden of being perfect, or trying to be everything to everyone. While my colleague’s more cynical outlook can be a weakness too, he balances this with a refreshingly honesty and candid way of speaking which I value highly.
While reading about leadership recently I read about Martin Luther King and I was astounded to learn that he achieved what he did in only 10 short years. It blows my mind to think that he changed the cultural and political landscape in the way he did at such a young age and in such a short time frame. Luther King was surrounded by many limiting beliefs, he heard so many negative voices yet, he stayed true to his values and the liberating truths he held so dear. He preached that we need to live hopeful lives of creative action as we have the right tools to create the kind of change the world needs. King’s own example shows us that. “There is no deficit in human resources,” he once said; “the deficit is in human will.”
Limiting ourselves by dwelling on the negative is an easy path to go down. Instead we have to actively choose how we perceive our day. Another colleague of mind has two mantras: “make the magic happen” and “not a problem”. His deliberate choice to be open to possibility frames his interactions with his colleagues every day. Besides being an incredibly effective worker, he is also a valued team member due to his positive mindset.
What I have noticed about positivity is that being deliberately positive towards others and putting what’s troubling me deliberately to the back of my mind, I actually change my own mood. I feel better after my positive interactions with others and it helps to put things into perspective. For, in serving others, we too gain.