Focus on the Positive

We experience hundreds of different events every day: positive, negative, and neutral. Yet most of us tend to focus all our attention on the negative. Unfortunately, this holds true for your customers too. Many of you are shaking your heads in agreement since as we all know, the thing people share most readily with their friends are their bad experiences with your service or product.

Evolution has a part to play in this. Way back when, you only survived if you spent a lot of time focusing on the potential threats and bad things around you. Miss a few and you’d become something’s lunch.

We still have a need for survival skills. We need them every time we pull onto a highway during rush hour, or when a big project goes south on us. The business world is filled with people hiding knives behind their backs.

And yet, focusing so much on negative things is bad for your health, your relationships, and your organization. It takes a lot of energy and tends to give you a warped view of your situation. Productivity lowers, stress increases, and creativity and innovative thinking diminish.

The result is less and poorer work results and more of those unhappy customers sharing their disappointment with everyone they know in their social circle…and don’t know, through social media.

It turns out there’s a simple way to turn your thoughts to the positive, to change your thinking in order to improve your physical and mental wellbeing, thereby getting more done, improving results, and pleasing your customers.

Start every meeting by taking a few minutes to have everyone briefly share a good thing in their professional or personal lives that happened in the last few days.

Do it for yourself too by starting your day writing down two or three positive things that happened recently. You had a great dinner at the new restaurant, your child has a role in the school play, your company was featured in an article as a great place to work, a customer decided to double their order.

That’s it. The whole solution. As long as you do it regularly.

Spend more time sharing positive events in the life of your organization. Let people know you see and appreciate all of the things they are doing well. Energize them with stories about excited customers and exceptional results.

Encourage everyone else to start their meetings with positive stories. Lead by example and make this practice a part of your culture.

It won’t take long to notice the effect of this change in thinking.   It will lead to a change in perception. When people are primed to see the positive they’ll notice it more and will strive to add to it by creating more positive outcomes. Their outlooks will improve. As for negative things, their power will lessen and people will get over them quicker.

One of the skills that EOS teaches leadership teams is the art of running exceptional meetings. And an exceptional meeting starts with everyone sharing a good personal thing and good business thing that happened since you last met. It always gets people laughing and smiling and primed to dive into the issues of the meeting with energy and creativity.

Take time to recognize the positive. You’ll feel better, your people will feel better and your company will thrive.





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Make Some Enemies

While recent posts have highlighted some of the happy encounters inherent in my work, it’s not all roses. Over the last few weeks I’ve been involved in a number of  situations that were unpleasant. For reasons I don’t fully comprehend, the universe seems to throw these challenges to me in bunches. I wind up dealing with several in a short period of time and then, thankfully, am free of them until the next batch gets dropped in my lap. A number of people have seen through my usual friendly demeanor and realized that when the situation calls for it, I can be as tough as required so they know who to call when things get rough…

One of the situations I’m referring to began when a CEO asked me to deal with someone whose actions are leading his company to disaster. I exchanged several not very pleasant emails with the perpetrator, and ended up having to suggest various deficiencies in his grasp of reality while he proclaimed his innocence.. Another time, I was charged with telling a family member of a family business that due to his failings the rest of the family decided he needed to leave…immediately. And in yet a third dustup, I had to tell a previously successful senior executive that she had risen well into her level of incompetence. In all three cases, I had to do the dirty work that the executive in charge was unwilling to do.

And now there are three more people who have decided I just might not be their favorite person.

Reflecting on these events I remembered the words of the journalist Herbert Bayard Swope, “I cannot give you the formula for success but I can give you the formula for failure which is: try to please everyone.”

All too often executives, and others, work so hard to please that they forget that sometimes the best thing they can do for the greater good is something that causes them to make an enemy. You can’t be liked by everyone. Disapproval, rejection, and even outright dislike and enmity are often the results of your doing the right thing.

Possessing strength of character means having core values and principles that guide all you do. When they require you to let someone know they are out of line and could use a good whack on the side of their head, you deliver it. Metaphorically of course.

Good leaders know not only how to inspire others but also how to deal with those disrupting the organization. They need to tell those in the wrong job they need to move on, to take those being abusive to task for their actions, to put themselves in the line of fire to protect the defenseless. Good leaders build a culture of respect and an environment where all can thrive. They show others they mean it by their actions. Leaders show the door to those who violate the organization’s core principles and are unfit for their positions so that the rest of the enterprise can flourish.

You can’t please everyone and everyone can’t please you. It’s just the way it is. Go ahead, make a few enemies. If you do so with openness, honesty, and the best interests of your employees and organization in mind, it will be uncomfortable in the short term but the alternative is much worse.





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