I like to practice being grateful, every day I write in my journal three things I am grateful for. It helps me to see the positives and creates space for reflection. Sometimes I let this slip, when I do I notice my self-talk also slips towards the negative.
Our minds easily focus on the negatives, what did not work that day, someone who frustrated us, the person who cut us off in the traffic, the husband that left the mess in the kitchen, etc. Our natural state can be to pay attention to these small things and less attention to the little things that went our way. This can then lead to the practice of looking for the negative, finding what we are looking for and then losing perspective of what our days and lives really are.
Bernie Smith, a fantastic example of a positive and grateful person, once showed me a fabulous clip called, this is water. This speech given to graduating students of Kenyon College by David Wallace Foster, demonstrates the mental toughness we all need to practice being more balanced and positive rather than letting day to day frustrations be all about ourselves. He asks us to instead of getting frustrated and negatively judging others from the perspectives of our own lives we instead try to challenge ourselves on where they may be coming from. He demonstrates that we have a choice to decide how to internally and externally respond to these frustrations.
Managing our self-talk takes practice and discipline. An effective way to start to do this is to practice being grateful which assists us to change our bias from the negative to being balanced and more positive. This will then adjust our behaviour to displaying gratefulness. Saying thank you when someone does something nice, saying well done to effort and achievements big or small. Smiling more and being connected. This then flows on to our teams as it sets a more positive environment for them to thrive. A positive team tries harder, works better together and achieves higher results. A negative team loses their way, believes everything is too hard and is not worth the effort.
Positivity can come from different members of a team, like Bernie who always looks for ways to create this and inspires others by his actions. A leader’s job is see this and to encourage this. A leader’s job is to see the positivity and help others see it too. If you as a leader are focusing on more negatives than positives, don’t expect the overall team to be any different. If you focus on everything your team is not doing well, they will likely focus on everything you are not doing well, and you will both find what you are looking for. The negative feelings will start to define your culture.
Trying to be grateful does not stop us from striving to achieve more. It does not stop us from addressing the negatives when needed, it just helps us have a more balanced perspective and a healthier attitude towards our work and our lives. It assists us in making better decisions as we are clearer on what is important to us. And if nothing else, it makes us kinder people, and this is no small thing!
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou
Link to this is water clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJMbPCxDkgo