Better Manage Your Perspective in 2017
As you reflect upon the year, it can be hard not to worry about or dwell on what went wrong. But as you’ve likely heard, what you focus on grows. The more attention you pay to negative things in the past, the more likely it will be able to impact your ability to perform effectively in the moment, even the future. In fact, neuroscience tells us that even thinking about those worries or troublesome incidents can make the brain respond as if it’s happening all over again. That’s why as a leader, it’s important to maintain a productive, positive perspective and even use a forward-thinking mindset to drive your success and the victories of those you lead. If you struggle with this more helpful mindset, you can actually take steps to retrain your brain and shift that focus from what’s going wrong to what’s going right. What’s more, you can follow up that thinking with activities that build upon or serve as a catalyst for doing more of what’s working well for you. In this upcoming year, make a commitment to manage your perspective so the common tendency to note or focus on the negative doesn’t get out of hand and get the best of you.
To better manage perspective, try the following:
Start noticing what is going right. I’m willing to bet that you can name at least five things that are going great in your business. They may not be major accomplishments, but they could be viable, yet unnoticed or untapped assets. For example, it could be a valuable, loyal employee who wants to grow professionally and make your organization better. It could also be that in looking back at the year’s profitability trends, you notice strong sales where you hadn’t expected it, tipping you off to a hidden opportunity for next year. Or perhaps your team is working more effectively in the last few months. Point is, make a point to notice! Set aside some time and write out what’s going right, not limiting yourself to any expectations about what that list should look and feel like. Then, if you are a MAP client and have identified your Vital Few, challenge yourself to look at what’s gone right relative to those 20% of activities that drive 80% of your results. Where are the successes there? Make sure you’re well aware of what those are. Then strive to create a consistent habit around sustaining this behavior of awareness, remembering that what you focus on grows.
Replace negative self-talk with positive self-talk. Everyone, from leaders to employees on the front lines of any organization, struggles at times with negative self-talk. In fact, research shows that this kind of personal tearing down and internal sabotaging is something most people do. The most effective leaders, however, learn to ignore the internal dialogue or replace it with messages that lift rather than lower self-esteem and growth potential. So to accelerate your growth, monitor and manage this language, using positive affirmations, choosing words that help rather than hurt, and communicating beliefs that reinforce your strengths rather than your weaknesses.
Investigate opportunities before you. After all, opportunities for all kinds of aspects of improvement tend to surface quite regularly for most of us. Sometimes the opportunities are small, other times big. No matter, if you don’t explore the potential of something new or use curiosity to your advantage, you’ll find it’s just harder to land opportunities to change and to move away from old habits that don’t serve you, including negative thinking, focusing on your flaws, or dwelling upon the past year’s mistakes. When you investigate opportunities, it creates momentum. It gets you (and those you lead) thinking about what’s possible instead of what isn’t. This is the very mindset you’ll need to cultivate and manage thoughts and behaviors that don’t serve you well, while nurturing and building more of those that do.
How might an accountability coach help you build greater, more productive perspectives?