The Recovering Farmer

Friday, December 12, 2014

Focus On The Positive

Noticed an article this morning where the Steinbach RCMP are on the lookout at stop signs. But instead of handing our tickets to drivers who don’t stop they will be handing out coupons to drivers who do. Focusing on the positive. Hoping that the positive will prevent the negative. I like the concept, as I will explain, but wonder about this particular method of delivery.

I had the privilege of co-facilitating a leadership/mediation workshop this week. Okay. That may be overstating it. Not sure I really added much to the mix except I did pick up the facilitator and delivered him to the workshop in one piece and on time. Surely that is worth something.

The workshop involved a group of people involved in a highly intensive environment. Situations where the best of us would snap under pressure. I mean really. I snap under pressure at home. Never mind in a situation with colleagues who all have a job to do in a time sensitive workplace. I was amazed at the resilience shown by these folks in spite of the pressure they are under.

As we debriefed the session on our way home I mentioned to my colleague that I felt the approach to the workshop had been excellent. What we did for the first hour or two was focus on all the positives the team had. And there were many. It was interesting to see, as the discussion evolved, how more and more participants became involved. I suspect that most participants had expected a session to deal with the negatives of that particular group. After all, that is what needed some work.

As we transitioned to the challenges, the negative stuff, participants approached it with a completely different mindset. There appeared to be a shift in attitude, a shift in perception. There came to be a realization that this in fact was a team. A team that was quite successful in spite of the pressure they were under. There appeared to be a better understanding of why there were particular flashpoints. The focus shifted from wanting to vent and lash out to one of cooperation and collaboration. It was incredible to watch. It provided another valuable life lesson for me.

In much of the literature I read there is a reference to “all or nothing” thinking. That simply means that when something negative happens in our life we are prone to having that event control our thoughts. We get wrapped up in the negativity. We lose focus of everything else. We become immersed in the negative and lose sight of the positive.

There needs to be a paradigm shift. Next time something bad happens, next time you feel overwhelmed on what life is throwing at you, next time you are convinced that life is unfair, take a moment to look at the positives in your life. Take it from someone who seems to thrive on focusing on the negative, there are positives. It may require some effort to shift our thinking. As one colleague likes to say, “quit your stinking thinking”. Preface your frustration, your anger, and your negativity with some positive thinking.

And for those of you that are wondering, I did manage to get my colleague home as well. I learned a lot that day. Now I am off to Steinbach to get myself a coupon. Might help with my Christmas shopping. Hope I don’t speed on the way. Then again, they might have an extra special reward for that. Make it a good one.

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