Have you ever tried to do important work while you were in a bad mood? Have you ever tried to have a crucial conversation when you are feeling depressed or hopeless? Man, that’s a real struggle, isn’t it?! So much of life depends on us bringing our best – being positioned to rise above the circumstance and raise others with us. How should you go about acquiring a positive mindset?
In the Bible, there is a verse that was written by Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples. This verse (1 Peter 3:15) says that we have to always “be ready to give an explanation for the hope that is in us.” Sooooo, if someone is asking, they must be seeing it, right?! Unfortunately, we don’t get asked often enough! And it must be unusual enough that it causes them to stop and go “Hey, that gal isn’t falling apart even though there are plenty of reasons why she should be!” Our attitude shows up on our face.
I can tell you that I do not rely on my circumstances for my hope. It’s not because my job is going great. My hope and joy are not dependent on my kids staying out of trouble, not doing drugs, or staying in school. I want to talk about this for just one second. Hear me on this: if you are a parent who is or has been challenged with raising children that are making bad choices, I know that it can feel like a knife in your heart.
Life = Challange
Because life is challenging, I have too many stories to share with you. Too many conversations I’ve had with parents, grandparents, siblings, and spouses who suffered the agony of watching bad decisions that literally tore families apart. When that pain comes, you MUST remind yourself that your happiness and joy is not dependent on their good decision making. Your future (and their’s) is not dependent on a well-lived past. The ship can be turned and I can share lots of examples where the seemingly impossible occurred, and a life gets back on track.
This is real. I’m not talking about keeping a good attitude when sales were a little lower than planned this month. I’m talking about keeping a positive mindset when your spouse has left you. I don’t look at the quality of my marriage to determine whether I can have hope today. No relationship makes that decision for me. As important as a relationship is, the moment I place an expectation on it, I’m bound to be disappointed.
It’s not because my bills are paid or because I have a car that started or a new home/RV/boat, etc… As you well know, money in a bank account or sufficient preparation for retirement is not a “pass” to avoid a terminal diagnosis. Hope is not dependent on my health or the health of my loved ones.
The Origin Of Your Hope
I’m thankful for many of those things, but they don’t determine whether I am happy. I am grateful each and every day for the incredible life I have experienced…in spite of the pain. I love my wife, my boys, and their wives. My family relationships with parents, siblings, and in-laws are wonderful. Even in the midst of hardship, my life is a dream. My point isn’t to share all of the things that have caused me much suffering and pain – there is plenty.
Now, I’m asking you not to stop the podcast. Hear me out – this next statement might challenge you. My hope is firmly and exclusively placed on the person and work of Jesus Christ. You may not share a common belief with me about who Jesus is, and that’s fine. I share it with you because it’s core to the person that I am and preserves me in rough waters.
What I want for you is this: as a leader, you must anchor your hope to something other than your circumstances. Can you cast a vision that looks beyond momentary…or sometimes extended periods…of difficulty or challenge? Can you paint a picture of the good that will result as you persist in the pursuit of your mission?
Developing a planned response to events that could produce a negative mindset is essential. Jon Gordon released a cool little one-page .pdf that is titled Six Steps To Stop Negativity In Its Tracks (link is in the resources below). It’s a subset of another post of Jon’s titled 9 Ways To Beat Negativity (also included below). While the list is not complete and you may think of things that you would add or remove, it’s a good starting place for this discussion.
Be Aware Of Your Thoughts
What’s the outcome of the things you think about? Do your thoughts energize you and charge you up? Maybe they depress you and zap your energy. Does it lead to action or does it lead to more worry about things you can’t control? Your brain has a limited amount of energy that it can dedicate to difficult and complex problems. So, don’t waste that on things you can’t control! Interrupt the thoughts – you’ll see more about that as we get through the list.
Talk Yourself Through The Fear
If you’ve listened to this podcast for more than an episode or two, you know the acrostic for FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real). Fear is a proposed or possible result that your consciousness conjures up. Think about this: what was the last headline you read or the stories you have seen on the evening news recently? Were they celebrating humanity and why you should be confident in the goodness of the stranger sitting next to you or were they magnifying the depravity of a small percentage and implying that you should somehow feel unsafe around anyone that doesn’t think like you do?
Speak Truth To Lies
Michael Hyatt says you have to counter limiting beliefs with empowering truths (see the link to his blog post in the resources below). You have misled yourself into believing things about yourself, about others, and about the world that is simply not true. You must intentionally reframe that limiting belief with equal, opposite, empowering truth. (e.g. I’m too young/old to experience success in this activity). You take positive action in the midst of every negative circumstance.
Feel Grateful Instead Of Stressed
You know this: you can’t be both stressed and thankful at the same time. It’s like no matter what you are contemplating or thinking about right now, as soon as I say the words “pink elephant”, your mind shifts to thinking about a pink elephant.
Talk To Yourself Instead Of Listening To Yourself
This one absolutely rocked my perspective. Jon shares the story of Dr. James Gills. He is the only person to complete six Double Ironman triathlons (swim 2.4mi, bike 112mi, run 26.2mi – do it one day and turn around and do it the next). The last time Dr. Gills did this, he did it he was 59 years old. When asked how he did it, he said, “I’ve learned to talk to myself instead of listening to myself. If I listen to myself, I hear all the doubts, fears, and complaints of why I can’t finish the race. If I talk to myself, I can feed myself with the words I need to keep moving forward.”
Maintain A Success Journal
This is a simple, but powerful shift in your perspective. Instead of keeping track of everything that went wrong, you are going to keep track of everything that went right. I have an episode on this very topic that you should check out where I include hints from Pamela Jett on creating a glory file. You do this intentionally to remind yourself (and anyone else who will listen) of the things that have gone well. You tend to forget these successes. Episodes 40 and 41 Brag, Swag, or Sway: Why You Must Talk About Yourself has two parts and you will want to listen to both.
So, there you have it: six steps to halt negativity and enhance the creation of a positive mindset. What do you do to keep focused on everything good? I’d love to hear about it, so comment or send me a note.
Great Quotes From This Episode:
“I’ve learned to talk to myself instead of listening to myself. If I listen to myself, I hear all the doubts, fears, and complaints of why I can’t finish the race. If I talk to myself, I can feed myself with the words I need to keep moving forward.” – Dr. James Gills
Resources Mentioned In This Episode:
Michael Hyatt’s blog post on Limiting Beliefs
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Now, go lead like someone you would want to follow!