In Part I of this series, I discussed the importance of developing the habit of self-compassion. A natural outgrowth of this habit, and something that is just as important, is a positive mindset. Some would argue that a positive mindset is a success mindset.
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” — Winston Churchill
We see the world as a reflection of our thoughts and attitudes. A negative mindset or attitude makes the world look harsh and unforgiving, full of difficulties and people “out to get you.” A positive mindset shows the world back to you as a place of possibility and opportunity, of obstacles to be overcome instead of roadblocks on the path to success. It’s necessary for your health, and that of your business, to be the “eternal optimist.”
Having a positive, success mindset is a matter of choice. It’s not something you’re born with, and it’s not a matter of “you either have it or don’t.” You develop and practice it. We all have the power to make our lives what we want them to be with each choice we make.
For example, when I was getting started in my business, I answered an ad on the Wealthy Web Writer job board for a writer with “at least two years of experience.” I didn’t have two years of experience, but I took a deep breath, told myself “Well, the answer’s always no until you ask, so I might as well give it a shot,” and applied. They responded, indicating the company needed writers for blogs and web pages for car dealerships around the country, and could I send some samples of my writing?
The only sample I had was one article about a hostel in Costa Rica. I got super nervous, stalled, and even considered writing them to apologize for wasting their time. But I bolstered my confidence and sent the article, telling myself, “the worse that could happen is they won’t hire me and I’ll be in the same place I am now. No harm, no foul.”
They wrote back: “We’ve had a chance to review your samples and think you’d be a good fit for our team.” I now have a steady gig writing for the company! If I had framed this situation in a negative way, telling myself it was stupid to even try since I didn’t have the “right” samples or the “required” amount of experience, I would have missed out. By keeping my thoughts in a positive place, I was able to break through my self-imposed barriers and move my business to the next level. And you can do the same.
“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” — Willie Nelson
Developing Your Positive Mindset
In addition to focusing on possibilities and opportunities in every situation, the practice of positivity is applying compassion to, and removing your ego from, all people and situations. If, say, a potential client is short with you during a phone call, instead of thinking, “What a jerk! Forget you then!” Try to look at it from the other person’s perspective by setting aside your ego. Maybe Client A has had a migraine for 12 hours and just can’t hack it anymore. Or maybe Prospect B hasn’t slept well for three nights, missed a deadline and is about to have a meltdown. These people need understanding, and by removing your ego and offering compassion and possible solutions, you’ll increase your value in the relationship as well as the warm feeling that accompanies helping others.
Don’t take less-than-optimum situations personally. Pretty much anything anyone ever says or does has everything to do with themselves and nothing to do with you, especially if they don’t even know you. As humans, our egos tend to take front and center, making us think every interaction is about ourselves. Feeling offended, affronted, hurt feelings, that all comes from the ego.
Try instead to view all situations (both enjoyable and less-than-ideal) from the other person’s perspective, and consider how you can be of service to them. Like Zig Ziglar says, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help others get what they want.” What may have happened that made Client X so impatient? What solutions can you offer? By reframing your perspective to that of the other person, your ego gets out of the way and you will not only bounce back quicker from setbacks, but develop confidence in your professional ability, knowing that bumps in the road won’t stop you from getting to your goals.
Framing events and encounters in a positive perspective doesn’t mean that you won’t have hard times, or never feel discouraged, but when you can see the world as a place of opportunity, it’s easier to put yourself out there because you know that rejection is part of the game, but that it doesn’t define you. Thomas Edison made 10,000 versions of the incadenscent light bulb before he figured out how it works. That doesn’t mean you’ll send out 10,000 emails before you get a potential client, but it you will definitely swim through a sea of rejection. And that’s ok, because you know it’s all just part of the game.
“Change your thoughts and you can change your world.” — Norman Vincent Peale
By looking for opportunity instead of difficulty, and by setting your ego aside and focusing on what value you can provide to other people, your success mindset, as well as your business and personal relationships, will blossom. Don’t take things personally. Do your best every day and you’ll always come out on top.
Next time: Mindfulness for Success
**This article is Part II of a series published on Wealthy Web Writer June 3, 2015.**