Having recently experienced a short bout of insomnia I resorted to my usual remedy and tuned in the BBC World Service for a while until sleep returned.
The running prgramme was Outlook hosted by the admirable Matthew Bannister and his fist guest was a young woman called Francesca Martinez, an actress, an author and a stand-up comedienne.
She was bright, intelligent, articulate, funny and inspiring. She also has cerebral palsy, which she charmingly calls her wobbliness.
Matthew asked her if she had any recurring problems as a consequence of her condition and she said that, for instance, handling buttons wasn’t too easy and speech could be difficult occasionally.
Then she said, very enthusiastically:
“Anyone in their right mind doesn’t harp on about what is wrong or difficult; they just work on what is right for them”
What a great piece of advice from someone who has every right to question her condition. However, because of her attitude she is successful at a list of accomplishments. It was a very heartwarming experience to listen to her.
Not a bad idea to listen to the interview on the BBC iPlayer Radio.
The whole thing is, of course, a metaphor for business and indeed, for life in generals. Driving a positive attitude into a business is the prerogative of the leader and it takes an inordinate amount of effort to be successful.
One of the complications of handling negativity is that when an individual has a problem and wants to change something to lighten the load, there is a tendency to reinforce a negative approach to the solution.
As a matter of principle, it is far more positive to establish what the desired outcome will look like and then concentrate on moving TOWARDS that outcome, rather than merely moving AWAY from the current situation.
In the past few years I have had several instances where someone is genuinely unhappy with their situation in a business and consequently works on the need to get away from it.
It is, of course, understandable but the method equally emphasises the unsatisfactory situation and doesn’t really contribute to the solution. In essence, the individual can only think of escape.
However, if the situation is analysed as objectively as possible then an acceptable route forward can be developed to give an outcome that really suits the individual.
That enables him/her to concentrate on the positive; what the future looks like, how successful they will be, how they will enjoy and prosper from the new situation and so on.
The difference can be startling. That great book, The Power of Positive Thinking by Dr Norman Vincent Peal (1898-1993) written in the 1930s has exactly the same resonance now as it had 80 years ago.
Leadership must be consistently positive. Follow the example of Francesca Martinez and learn how to achieve it from a genuine and successful expert.
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