As I walked my daughter to her preschool recently, we stopped several times along the way to examine the buds and blossoms that were just breaking their winter cocoon. The gentle rain could not dampen my enthusiasm sparked by this harbinger for spring. I tried to explain, best I could, to a three-year old that this new season was one of rebirth, that the trees would soon be full of leaves, the days would be warmer, and that swimming and camping were not far away.
It’s great when external cues help put wind in your sails. But what happens if those cues aren’t there? After all, it can’t be spring every day. There have been volumes of self-help books dedicated to this very subject: how to stay positive. It may be Pollyanna-ish, but this is possible; and the best entrepreneurs, as a class, are great at staying confident despite all evidence to the contrary.
One of the great rewards of serving on the board of directors at the Vancouver Board of Trade is that I have the privilege of seeing first-hand how some of the top executives in the city lead. And despite differences in leadership styles, the one virtue that almost all of these folks share is their positive outlook.
At the moment, I am reading Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins (yes, the American self-help teacher). If there is anyone in the world who is a Pollyanna (one who finds cause for gladness in the most difficult situations), it is Mr. Robbins. And this, I believe, rubs a lot of people the wrong way – at least it did me. Until I picked up this book.
After getting past the salesmanship in his writing, there is much to digest. One of the central challenges he tackles in this book is how to create the internal conditions for maintaining a positive outlook. His recipe is both simple (fake it ‘til you make it) and nuanced (an intricate look at how we make decisions). The bottom line is that by using his techniques, I’ve been able to stay in a positive frame of mind more consistently. That’s good for my business. And for my daughter.