From Arlene: Cup Half Full

From Arlene: Cup Half Full

Leadership | Posted by - August 2, 2016 at 1:00 am

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.

Tags: cup half full, entrepreneurs, youinc, blog, arlene dickinson, negativity, optimism, positivity

Joanna Wiseberg
June 27, 2014 at 6:57 pm
I don't think there is enough written or shared about the really tough times an entrepreneur experiences in their career. For example: like almost losing your company. That is a horrible and painful reality which happens. There ought to be more content about getting through negative times.
Irene Shaw
June 29, 2014 at 1:45 am
I believe that the value of an optimistic outlook and a positive perspective in facing challenges, obstacles, delays, etc. cannot be underestimated within daily life or within business opportunities. Often what appears to be negative really represents positive, untapped potential.
Karen Holman
June 29, 2014 at 11:54 am
Thank you for this article, Arlene, right when I needed to read it!
Joe Wasylyk
August 6, 2016 at 1:18 pm
Arlene, as you already know budding entrepreneurs come from all ages and different skill sets. My particular focus is the senior 50+ entrepreneurs. Like you I have experienced countless times where I had to act and look positive when I was feeling the opposite. In Canada, we are doomed if we don't have the more successful business people step up to lend some business support to the potential over 50 entrepreneurs. This is the demographic that society labels as being unimportant, invisible, socially discountable, politically weak and economically insignificant. In other words most seniors start out in the land of negativity before they even startup their own entrepreneurial project. I know that you have experienced helping some seniorpreneurs; especially that individual in his 80's who was working on a new adjustable metal saw horse product. He definitely needed massive help before his product was suitable for the very competitive marketplace. Yes, negativity begets nothing But in many cases this is the reality of many senior entrepreneurs who are often forced to work alone. By themselves there is little chance that any one of them will possess the right skill set required to produce and market their own business idea. However; when you personally stepped up to help the 'adjustable metal saw horse' product inventor in his 80's, you brought smiles to the inventor and probably the whole TV audience watching that specific episode on the program Dragon's Den. So, negativity is the reality for many people until someone like you provides business support and this begets positive action, where the older entrepreneur then becomes a pragmatic optimist. Thanks for helping the seniorpreneurs become successful.
Mark Morin
August 6, 2016 at 3:10 pm
Thanks Arlene, fantastic article ... How true it is, a wise person once shared that in the end its how we choose to live that ``dash that counts`` ( .. check out this video ``the law of attraction`` that co-incidently followed it ... Doesn`t it seem like Life itself, not least all the good and bad in between, has a begining and ending too ? In the end isn`t it true that whether its almost loosing a business like Joanna has, all too familiarily, experienced... that in the end its indeed how we deal with Dash - that matters ! Like you Arlene, while coping with the best that negativity can throw our way, its so true how theres no better way to overcome it than by choosing a balanced optomistic approach. Though at times we might iether experience or need to admister taking a tough love approach - which on the surface seems void of optomism, be it with our children, co-workers, or family when and if they too make bad choices, dealing with such in with grace and understanding indeed begets the kind of possitivity ( the dash ) it took to inspire enough faith and trust for the first man to remotely suggest let alone seriously take steps to sending the first man to the moon !

Alene. Thanks for all you do including this forum and not least ``being the change I want to see in the world`` . Ghandi

Joe, as a ''52 pluser'' I can't agree with you more ... I too could use a hand up ... I sent you a linkedin invitation .. Have a look at the linkedin articles I've published you'll get a flavor as to what I mean.

Karen and Irene, I'm right there with you ... keep on keeping on !

Cheers, Mark

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