“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer
A classic example of perspective is how we observe a glass consisting of 50% fluid and 50% empty space. Do you see the glass as half full or half empty? The KEY point to this question is where did you choose to direct your focus? Did you focus on the positive or the negative? Recently, especially when viewing most mainstream media, it would appear that these days a large portion of our population is leaning towards the negative side. The unfortunate result of this are seen in the emotions we tend to gravitate towards in negative states: anger, fear, grief, apathy, guilt, and shame. This is not the best place to live at for any extended period of time. During times like this we are best served with a change in perspective, moving towards a positive and more optimistic outlook on our work and life.
A mentor of mine, Alan Weiss, PhD, shared this nugget of wisdom on how to keep our EGO constant, “isolate the negatives, and generalize the positives.” As leaders there is so much value in adopting this principle, and embracing this perspective within our lives. When we isolate the negative we can be honest with ourselves, admit our mistakes and faults, but, and here is the KEY, ISOLATE THEM. For example, if you missed an appointment, isolate the negative, “At 8:45AM on Tuesday, January 10th I missed an appoint with David Smith.” By contrast, most people will generalize the negative, “I missed an appointment again,” or “I always miss appointments.” When we begin generalizing negatives along with adding absolutes (always, never, etc.), whether directed towards ourselves or others, we amplify negative stress on ourselves and those that surround us our family, friends, colleagues, clients, and customers.
As a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) and Master Neurolinguistic Programming Practitioner (NLP), I will pickup on absolutes spoken in conversations when coaching and consulting with clients. One method I use is known as the meta-model. When an absolute is spoken, I will repeat or mirror the absolute back. For example if a client says “I always do this!” I might say “Always? All the time?” This method creates a pattern interrupt allowing the client to recognize that they don’t always do this negative thing, they only did this negative thing on this specific occasion, at this specific point in time, period.
Alternatively if we generalize the positive, adding in absolutes, we now have the building blocks for amplifying an individuals confidence, mindset, esteem, worth, and value. We can “always be successful,” we “never lose, we either win or learn.” Dr. Richard Bandler, one of the co-founders of NLP recommends ‘doubling things’ and having ‘amnesia for things’. What was that negative thing, oh never-mind… it probably wasn’t important. Meanwhile, when recalling that positive moment, double the size of the memory, make it bigger, brighter, louder, more enjoyable, and amplify all recalled sensations.
As I write this we are now exiting the COVID-19 global pandemic, and transitioning into a post-pandemic world. Which world are we going to choose to move into? The world of the mental health crisis? The dystopian 1984 nightmare? Or, will we isolate those negatives, avoid dwelling on them, to the point of eventually having amnesia of them. Perhaps now is the time to move into a world full of opportunity, innovation, connection, advancement, and abundance, with knowledge that the future will only get brighter than this. How does it get better than that? Doubling it? If we can double our opportunity, double our innovation, double our connections, double our advancement, and double our abundance, the future becomes even bigger, and even brighter, and that’s a good start!
Copyright Wes Paterson 2022