Winston Churchill once said, “A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.”
I interact with contractors all the time from many different types of trades through my free 30-minute calls, emails asking questions about business, speaking engagements, teleseminars and webinars. In these multiple contacts with all types of contractors, I hear how pessimistic they tend to be. I know what it sounds like to be pessimistic as a contractor because once upon a time I was just the same. It truly does take one to know one.
Having worked to become less negative when I was still working as a contractor in my family business, I can tell you both my business and my life in general got better when I adopted more of a positive attitude.
Unfortunately, too many contractors have adopted a vision of the world where they see the glass as half empty. Whatever goes right at work and in their life they tend to discount as a fluke. If something goes wrong they tend to see it as confirmation that their distorted, negative view is right.
If this pessimistic and negative approach really worked and they were experiencing more success and less stress, I’d encourage more contractors to be more pessimistic. But it doesn’t work!
Give up being right about the wrong view of the world and discover your potential to be rich and possibly a whole lot happier.
Worrying and fear are natural occurrences for anyone who’s been in business for awhile, especially in the recent vicious downturn. Not every contractor I work with or even speak to suffered. Many of them actually grew their business and their profits during the height of this recession.
You know what I noticed about the majority of these winners? They had a positive attitude and they tended to be optimistic. Their infectious attitude infused their staffs with a much-needed dose of, “We’ll succeed, not just survive.” That is exactly what came to pass at their shops.
Here’s what I’ve found in my own life and in the lives of those I’ve worked with. Worry and fear to excess don’t get you what you want; you get more of what you don’t want. It’s like a magnet that attracts the opposite of what it really wants.
The trick is to stay optimistic and positive even when things are not going exactly the way you’d like. You really have no other choice for the following three reasons:
- Negativity and pessimism will have a destructive effect on
your health. This is not just my opinion but the opinion of the medical
community as well.
- Negativity and pessimism are diseases your staff can catch like a
bad virus. And who wants to work for someone like that anyway?
- Negativity and pessimism make you less attractive to potential clients because you are not conveying confidence or likability.
Challenge yourself to be positiveYou need to bombard yourself with positive thinking. The goal is to hear yourself while you’re saying or thinking something negative and challenge yourself to restate it in a positive way.
I do this exercise with clients: I have them take out a blank piece of paper and write out - without censoring themselves - every negative message about themselves and/or their businesses they catch themselves saying on a regular basis. I do the exercise with them because I know how hard it is to struggle against the negative messages we’ve allowed to have a home in our brains.
When we’re done, we share with one another what negative thoughts we feel comfortable sharing without judgment. I then have them rewrite each negative statement into a positive one. Again, I do the same because the more I do this exercise, the faster I can catch myself operating on negative thoughts and feelings. In that moment, I can rearrange it so it becomes a positive thought.
The last step of the exercise is to shred the negative thoughts we wrote and hang onto our positive thoughts.
The other bit of coaching I share is to make it an active goal to surround yourself with positive and optimistic people, even if it means joining a group or association. Read books and listen to audio from authors who espouse the power of positive thinking and staying optimistic.
I absolutely believe what’s wrong with most businesses is the owner. I was an owner, so I was guilty of being the problem in the business. I blamed everything on everyone else but me. That is until a very wise national association leader I had become friendly with held up the truth mirror and I had to look where I didn’t really want to.
Taking a look in the mirror made me stop blaming others and accept that I had the power to change myself first and rewire my defective thinking.
It’s so important to change your thoughts and outlook from negative to positive that I give a gift to my clients - Dr. Normal Vincent Peale’s “Power of Positive Thinking Every Day.” I explain to them it is somewhat religious-based, so whether you’re religious or spiritual, there is no doubt the book has unmistakable power if you’re willing to read the daily portion every day.
I practice what I preach. I read it every morning before I begin my day because it immediately improves my mood and helps me get re-centered and regain my perspective. It helps me help others. That’s the most important gift I give myself.
As an owner or manager, your most important role is to set the right type of cultural attitude at your shop. Let this statement wash over you. It’s not that the million other things you do aren’t important, but none of them are more important than setting the right attitude. It is a positive attitude that will ultimately determine how far you can take your company and how attractive a workplace you can create.