Let’s imagine you decide to leave the door to your house open for a day with a sign saying ‘Free Chocolate – Only one per person please”.
Most likely, you will have a sizeable proportion passing by who will ignore you. Another bunch will likely come in and do exactly like you intended. One of those might even leave you a thank you note. Then, there will be that small group that will make you pay for it – literally. Some might take the whole bunch of chocolates ignoring your instruction and yet some others may walk away with something else in the room.
Let’s imagine you knew nothing about human nature when you did this. What would your reaction be?
‘I’ll never leave the door open again.’ is the most natural response.
Derek Sivers has a brilliant video on this and he makes some very valid points on the importance of taking stock and reflecting before responding.
I, however, would like to use this analogy to highlight a slightly different idea.
Staying positive is similar to walking about leaving your doors open. Every once in a while, there WILL be an idiot who will mess things up either by saying something mean or just behaving like an idiot. And you’ll likely remember that idiot because all the others who benefited from your positive presence will likely never tell you they did. And even if they did, you would think about and remember the bad much longer than you’d remember the good.
When that happens, it’s far far easier to sulk, complain, say something mean and even burn a bridge than it is to swallow it and stay positive. It is tempting to just succumb to the imp within and respond with something cutting that makes the other person feel small.
Just like it’s way too easy to just show up with no energy, enthusiasm or commitment. (Why else do meetings have a bad reputation?)
Easier. Not better. Or happier.
If you are still unconvinced, try spending an entire day smiling, staying positive and ‘giving energy’ to those you interact with, and you’ll see what I mean.
I am tempted to think we spend way too much time these days with machines, like computers, mobile phones and cars who are indifferent to our moods, to realize that humans don’t work like that. Our moods matter. Our energy matters. These things make a massive difference. Just because we don’t see it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.
Staying positive does not mean all is sunny and well in your life.
Just like happiness does not indicate the absence of sorrow. It just shows the courage to smile despite the sorrows.
Essentially, every day and every moment, we are showing the world the kind of stuff we are made of.
Positivity, bloody hell.
(For the non Football (read: Soccer) folks, “Football..Bloody Hell” is a famous Sir Alex Ferguson quote following Manchester United winning the European cup with two goals in the last 3 minutes of the game after trailing the opposition for 80 minutes.)