BY CHRISTINA DAVIS
Allow me to set the scene: It’s a Friday evening in the dog days of August. Our car’s thermostat reads 96 degrees, but the heat index is a steamy 106. We are just getting home from back-to-back Little League games, and we are hot, hungry, and tired! We practically trample one another to get into the house and hop in the showers. The children are complaining about the heat, and as I climb the stairs, the temperature increases 10 degrees with every step. My heart sinks as I realize our air conditioning has gone out at the worst possible time; no company would get to us before Monday morning. As I start to lose my cool—though I didn’t have much to begin with—I yell down the stairs to my husband. He is already smiling. “This is great!” he calls. “Let’s have a family slumber party downstairs. We can rent a movie, pop popcorn, and set up pallets on the floor. The air works perfectly down here!”
So what does this have to do with you and your business? Have you heard of the 90/10 principle? This principle states that 10 percent of life is made up of what happens to you and 90 percent of life is decided by how you react. Included in the 10 percent are things such as Starbucks being out of your favorite blend on a rainy Monday morning, a chauffeur rear-ending another car, and a downpour right at the beginning of a major group move.
Ninety percent is completely controllable. We alone decide how we will act in and react to any of these situations. No one can force us to have a bad attitude, just as no one can force us to have a good one—it’s simply a choice we must make for ourselves each and every day.
Whether we are naturally optimists or pessimists, it is important to be prepared mentally to handle what lies ahead, especially as the leaders of our companies. So perhaps the best of both worlds is to be realistic optimists: people who maintain a positive outlook within the constraints of what they know about the world.
Daily hassles are inevitable. Those people who are realistic optimists still face the day-to-day challenges and bumps in the road; they just don’t sweat it and they don’t break down. They find the good in their successes in order to better handle the small stresses.
Positive thinking motivates you to set goals and reach for them. When you are expecting positive results, there are no negative thoughts to hold you back; you remain upbeat and optimistic. Temporary setbacks and failures won’t let you down for long, and you will bounce back to your feet at the first opportunity. Negatives exist, always: Positive thinkers do not refuse to recognize the negative, but they do refuse to dwell on it and let the situation get worse.
Your answer to the question, “Is your glass half empty or half full?” boils down to how you talk to yourself. If you are looking for something to complain about, you will absolutely find it. It requires effort to achieve a happy outlook on life, and most people won’t make that effort on a consistent basis. People take the path of least resistance because they think that it is easier, but that just leads to unhappiness.
In the end, we choose our outlook on life and how we choose to live it: the 90 percent. Whatever has to be done, we are the ones who take the responsibility to do it. As leaders in our companies, let’s start the revolution of adopting the positive realistic optimist’s outlook and lead by example! [CD0316]
Our friends at The LMC Group, the livery management consultants, will be exploring different monthly topics that are relevant to you, and we’d like to know what questions you’d like to see answered. Please email your questions for the HR Coach to firstname.lastname@example.org, who will also provide additional guidance and information regarding this ongoing series.
Christina Davis is the HR Director for The LMC Group. She can be reached at email@example.com.