As human beings, we have a tendency to focus so much on maintaining what we already have that we sometimes miss exciting opportunities that forced change can bring.
Where is your focus?
It’s natural for us to be concerned about things that aren’t right, things we miss or things we have lost, such as jobs or business opportunities. However, it is far more positive – and far more effective for moving your business forward – to look at what we have gained instead.
Newton’s well-known scientific principle states, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Similarly everything in life has an opposite, and there is another side to every situation you find yourself in. We need to train ourselves to deviate from the natural response of focusing on what is wrong or missing and consciously and deliberately look at the other side.
When faced with a negative situation that is likely caused by external factors beyond your control, it’s tempting to blame circumstances for your predicament. The problem is that not only does it not resolve the situation; it renders you powerless because you are allowing those circumstances to control your life.
So what can you do to alter your outlook? You can deliberately look at the other side by asking yourself a few questions to stimulate change:
1. What can I find in this situation that is positive?
Your first reaction will likely be, “There is nothing good in this.” However, you must persist if you are looking to change your mindset. Keep asking the question and force yourself to continue searching. Be sure to write down the answers – writing things down helps to crystalise the thought in your mind and gives you a reference point to return to.
You are essentially brainstorming with yourself, so apply the rules of brainstorming. There is no wrong or silly answer and nothing should be dismissed. If possible, brainstorm with a friend. You will be amazed at how many ideas you come up with and how it starts to shift your focus away from what is wrong.
2. If something isn’t working or is missing in my business, what are the things that are working and what are the things I do have?
The same principle applies. Brainstorm it, write it down and watch your focus shift onto all the things that are already working for you.
3. How can I use this situation to take me where I want to go?
Again, your first reaction may be, “But this is preventing me from where I want to go.” Use the answers to Questions 1 and 2 to work on this. Often we find ourselves in situations that may at first appear to be roadblocks, only to find that this new situation has brought with it opportunities we didn’t have before. If we are focused on the roadblocks, we will miss those opportunities.
When circumstances push us into a situation we did not expect, it’s natural for us to want to push against them and fight tooth and nail to keep things the way they are.
It’s as natural for workers in the car industry to push against the changes affecting their jobs as it is for retailers to push against the tide of changing buying habits. But pushing hard in the long run is draining and can leave you feeling exhausted and powerless.
Instead of pushing, find the flow you can dive into. Look for the things that are in your favour. By pushing hard to keep things the way they are, you may not only be left exhausted and disillusioned, you may also have robbed yourself of an opportunity to learn something new, do something different and grow as a person and business owner.
This article represents the views of the author only and not those of American Express.
Hans Wrang is a coach, consultant, presenter and author at The Positive Lane. He has more than 15 years experience in performance coaching, the last five of which have been teaching people how to improve their results and experience of life by applying the principles of Positive Psychology. Hans runs regular seminars and workshops, contributes to blogs and other publications and appears regularly on TV and radio programs in Australia and overseas.