Few people escape life without experiencing a
negative event. But, as the saying goes, “It’s not what
happens to you, it’s what you do with what happens
There is a difference between encountering
negative events and possessing a negative mindset.
Here are a few ways that these negative events can
benefit our lives, if we choose to let them.
All too often, we find ourselves sleep walking
through our days and, if we are not careful, through
our lives. It is often a negative experience that
catches our attention and wakes us up. Whether it’s
incredibly bad customer service or the commuter
train breaking down, you know when it happens. It
jolts us out of our routine, serving as a wakeup call
to pay attention to what is happening around us.
In those moments, it’s important to remember the
miracles and beauty of everyday life.
As leaders, if we are not careful, we can find ourselves too focused on our poor performers. Without
a doubt, it is a challenge, particularly for managers,
to have adequate time to interact with employees
one-on-one, and in a manner that each employee
deserves. Unfortunately, what inevitably happens
is that the troublesome employees get our time and
energy and our superstars get overlooked. But if we
expect their best, this investment of time is crucial.
Like personal miracles, we need to appreciate those
employees, volunteers, or others who make it possible for us to focus on what we need to do.
Two sides of the same coin
In nature, positives and negatives go together.
Whether it is the protons and electrons of an atom
or the batteries that power the technology in our
lives. As it relates to the way we think, how would
we know when things were positive or good if we
don’t have bad experiences to contrast them? So
when you encounter something that you interpret
as negative, consider taking a deeper look and asking, “What is the positive in this situation?” This
probably doesn’t come easily to some of us. With
practice and intentionality, we can find the silver
lining in almost any situation.
In our work lives, there have probably been a
time or two where things simply didn’t go as we ex-
pected. Our initial reaction was likely “woe is me.”
Then something better came along and we were
able to move on.
The stories we tell
Whether it’s in the news or with our friends, have
you ever noticed that despite our protestations to the
contrary, the stories that seem to be more interesting are the ones that involve hardship and tragedy?
Despite some research suggesting it may be schadenfreude (that feeling of happiness some people get
from other people’s misery), I think it’s because there
is hope in hardship. There is hope that things will get
better and turn out okay. Without hardship, there
would be no opportunity to have hope. And as much
as I believe in the theory of hope, the reality is that
unless something incredibly exciting happens to us,
the ordinary and mundane events in life are unlikely
to be part of the story we tell at our next company
Opportunities in disguise
In business, negative situations can be opportunities. Take, for instance, the United Airlines passenger situation that occurred a few months ago. There
is no denying that overbooking flights and forcibly
removing someone from an airplane cast United
in a negative light. I will not analyze the incident,
nor recount it in detail here (feel free to research
it yourself to refresh your memory). The incident
was regrettable, but the fact remains — it happened.
Subsequently, some people called for boycotts and
others promised never to fly United again.
The good news about this situation is that United
had an opportunity to address its customer service
in a way that empowers employees to handle the
same situation differently in the future. Beyond
addressing the situation, United has a chance to
improve its customer service so that its brand will
restored. Regardless of what happens, hindsight
provides us the opportunity to review, assess, and
plan for something better in the future.
In an upcoming column, we’ll explore positiv-ity and how to use a positive mindset to manifest
the outcomes we want in our lives and with those
we lead. ACC
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FOR THE ASSOCIATION OF
CALIFORNIA WATER AGENCIES
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FOUNDER AND OWNER OF
SHIFTING INTO ACTION,
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CLIENTS IN THE MIDST OF
The Positives of Negativity
voices whitnie wiley
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