I’m stood in the dining room of one of the really fancy hotels in Manchester, I’m surrounded by some of the UK’s biggest movers and shakers of the entrepreneurial and business world.
As I take my seat to eat lunch I’m introduced the group as being one of the most positive people this person knew. I was blown away. I know I really do beat the drum of talking good to myself and others but to actually hear somebody describe me as that made me realise that I really do walk my talk, and I’m being seen and heard as doing so.
But I haven’t always been the path lighter of positivity – believe me!
Way back in the day, in my previous career in the corporate for world, I could sometimes moan for the Universe. I could be a right proper whiner! There were times when I could probably have won a medal at Olympic level.
I’ve always been pretty bright and sunny in my outlook and actions. But this one time, this one time when I worked somewhere and all I can recall hearing was nothing but miserable, negative talk. My perception of the experience was it being utterly awful. And guess what the worst thing was, I joined in with the negative nellies. I started moaning and groaning. I’d joined the club of “if-you-can’t-beat-em-join-em”
I couldn’t see the bright side, it was like the building had a thick black cloud of swirling negative energy. All I could think about was how awful it was. How awful I felt. How nobody further up the food chain ever said anything good.
The leadership company culture was all about telling employees how crap they were, how they needed to do better; keeping them on the edge of their seats in fear of getting sacked. No positive strokes, just keeping them in fear so that they worked far more hours than necessary, keeping them up all night with the fear and negativity. The thinking and management style was based on the assumption that treating people in a negative fear filled way would make them work harder, that it would bring out the best in them. They would perform better, do great things and deliver even more profits.
Even if something really good happened it was generally followed by a big weight filled conversation about how you needed to push even harder. If you’d reached one goal or even over achieved, it meant the goal was too easy and you were a slacker. Nobody smiled, laughed or had a joke. All the things I think are vital to a healthy working relationship and environment.
It was negative comment. After negative comment. After negative comment.
I distinctly remember one day I was called up to a board meeting and told to bring along a document on a project that I’d been working on. I’d been achieving, delivering, it was a complex project and I was the expert on it. I was really proud of what I’d done and I’d had some really great feedback from my peers. I knew this work was good. I knew I was performing to the best of my ability. As I walked into that room (full of middle aged men) I was met with the opening line of “Lets see what this loser has to say for herself then…”
I WAS FLOORED! In that moment my self-esteem, my confidence, my knowledge, my joy – I allowed it all to be stolen from me. I was just hearing rubbish about myself again. I knew it was ridiculous. I knew it wasn’t true on the surface. But I’d been in that culture for so long, the mind gremlins came along too, telling me that this absolutely must be true.
Not one person in the room defended me.
Not one person even tried to put me at ease.
I didn’t defend myself – which made me even angrier.
I was totally letting myself down.
Not one person said anything remotely positive.
They all just laughed… Maybe some a little nervously.
But they all just laughed.
I can remember going home that night and just crawling into bed feeling so low, hopeless and thinking that work should not be this crap.
There is a theory that it takes five positive people to crowd out one negative toxic person in an organisation. It takes five positive interactions with friends, family, colleagues to crowd out one negative.
It does take more than just saying the positive words. You have to mean them. Understand them. really connect with them. Demonstrate positive actions.
If we find ourselves surrounded by the negative nellies of this world, we have to be the ones to make the change. We have to lead from the front. When I communicate with my family, I always say to them “Tell me the good stuff that happened first – even if it seems really small, tell me that thing first”. We can really influence the way people view the world.
Imagine that, every conversation has to start with the good stuff.
(I do just want to put a little side-bar in here, it’s absolutely ok to be down in the dumps and need to off load the crap stuff in your life when things aren’t going well. This is not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about a perpetual state of negative self talk and observations.)
I left that job soon after the “loser” comment. I simple could not allow my hopes and dreams to die there. I battled my way out and made it my job to do better. Even if they couldn’t or wouldn’t, I could do better for myself. It was my job to look for the more positive, truer aspects of myself, to look out for me and to find an environment that opened me up, allowed me to thrive, grow and develop.
These are the five things I live by to be a tribal leader of positive input and output ::
- Compliment yourself. For me this is the birthplace were it starts. This is not about positive thinking. This about changing how you think. How you take action. How that makes you feel. Sometimes it’s easier to believe the not so good about ourselves that the mind gremlins are touting. They are always wanting to sell us a front row seat to shitsville. Being good to yourself comes in all guises and not just words. My good-to-me routine is all about how I start the day; the first hour of any day I spend time in self development and self-care. I meditate, I journal, I sit in quietness. We literally have to focus on raising our own vibration first, it’s then like a magnet to all the other good vibrations out there. Trust me on this. The more good vibration we have, the more all the other good vibrations wanna hang with you.
- Compliment other people, find the golden good stuff about them that’s totally true. Tell them what you like about them. Tell them what they do well. Engage with them. I remember working with somebody who I consciously anchored in with them all their best qualities It was clearly uncomfortable for that person to hear this good stuff. After a time they started to really own it in a big way. I watched them literally bloom and prosper. At a later date that person explained to me that in the beginning hearing all that good stuff was really hard, because they never heard somebody tell such good things about them self before. When people are genuine about our good stuff we tend to like them. The world is a rosier place when we hang around with people we like. When we create a place were liking each other is so good, normal and natural.
- Be consistent with your feedback and support. Blow their trumpet every god damn single day. It’s important that once we start the practice of good stuff, we keep it up. Consistency builds confidence and belief. It builds self-esteem. It helps humans grow into being really awesome humans.
- Be a superwoman/man, think about your body language. If we’re all super saggy or saying the good feedback to ourself and others with your best sad face or as my dearest friend calls it “resting bitch face”, anything you say or do for yourself or others can be doubted. The mind won’t believe what’s being said, because it’s being said by a sad sack. If your energy is a little droopy, proactively change your energy. Stand in superwoman/man pose, own your power. March on the spot with high knees and using the opposite hand to knee, tap the knee as it comes up. It helps get the blood blood pumping and the energy flowing.
- Accentuate the positive to eliminate the negative. When I’m supporting people to make changes I also way use the concept of crowding-in the good stuff. Focus on that. When we crowd-in the good stuff, the things that aren’t working for us have a chance to naturally fall away leaving us feeling great. And that goes the same for words. Crowd in your good words and roll with the good stuff.
In order to grow and prosper we all need encouragement. We all need to know that we can be more, have more, if that’s our hearts desire. We have to get into the art of fostering good positive speaking and actions.
Imagine a child that only hears negative about themselves – do you think they are going to thrive and reach for the moon?
Image a project that’s only being powered by negative outlook and forecasting – do you think it’s going to come to life with abundance and joy?
Image being in a relationship and only telling the person what you don’t like about them, what you perceive them to be rubbish at – do you think it’s going to be a joyous happy home to live in.
I could go on but I’m pretty sure you’ve got the gist. It’s our duty to ourselves and every single human being we interact with to focus on the 5:1 vibe; five good, honest, powerful, productive, positive pieces of feedback to one piece of negativity.
Start every conversation and interaction with the really good stuff. Sit back and watch your life and others thrive.
What good things do you say to yourself each day – I’d love you’d to share in the comments to inspire others.