I was criticized the other day for being too optimistic and for not being more grounded in “negative reality.” I don’t know quite what that means, but I do know that my positivity is what keeps me going when things are negative and when I am feeling down. The meaning behind what was said is right, I suppose. I am not grounded by reality to the point I become negative. That’s too easy. I don’t choose to wallow in self-pity and get caught in the muck of bad moments. That doesn’t mean I don’t find myself sinking in quicksand sometimes, surrounded by people who throw me weights instead of lending a helping hand. Of course there are days when I feel like simply telling the world to go away – that I have no energy left to give.
Positivity begets positive action. Negativity begets nothing.
As an entrepreneur I face tough tasks and negative people each and every day. I am sometimes so overwhelmed by the issues that it is hard to even find my reserve of happy. And sometimes my “happy bank” is overdrawn. But I keep going and while I may not be “smiley,” I do try to present a calm demeanour and remain upbeat enough to get through it. I then go home and pull the covers over my head and talk myself through the day and what I need to do to stay on course with positive actions.
Business is sometimes very negative – we go through challenges that can literally knock the wind out of our sails. We wade through mud, jump over hurdles, battle unseen competition and fight for our place in our customers’ minds daily. But it’s business and, if you are an entrepreneur, you can’t let the reality of business create such worrisome space in your head that you become depressed. Because, if you do that, you simply won’t survive.
Yes, you are allowed “down moments” and you can also have a day of wondering “why me?” But you aren’t allowed to be pessimistic for the long haul. Everyone, including you, counts on that.
Being in the public eye has created its own need for me to show up with positive energy all of the time. I want to help other entrepreneurs navigate the challenge of business. To that purpose, I do a great deal of public speaking. My audience expects that I will be upbeat, positive and helpful. And that means that while I can stand on stage and profess to others how I too have to deal with hard issues, I am not allowed to be negative. Why do I tell you this as an example? Because all of us, as entrepreneurs, are doing the equivalent of giving a daily public speech. Our actions and words are carefully observed and distilled by the teams around us. When we show a lack of optimism, we show a lack of belief in what we are doing. We show that we can’t climb any mountain or forge any stream.
Countless times I have had to act and look positive when I was feeling the opposite. But the sheer act of forcing myself to show up positive creates its own effect and helps me to in turn be positive. Positivity begets positive action. Negativity begets nothing.
Being a pragmatic optimist is what I am truly best at. I love to see the cup half full, but I also wonder why it isn’t more full. And I am greatly aware that half a glass can disappear without more liquid being added. These are all metaphors, sure, but they all reflect a mentality that says positive. The world has enough negativity.