Be careful about what you focus on
Think about what you think about and choose your focus with care
Some recent reading has reminded me of something I’ve always believed. That is that you need to be very careful what thoughts you allow yourself. And also very careful what you choose to focus on.
This is because of the way the brain works. The subconscious part of your brain (the most powerful part) tries to make happen whatever you think about in your conscious brain. That’s why optimists generally have more positive life outcomes and pessimists more negative ones (For example recent research has shown that on average, optimistic people live longer, are healthier, have longer and deeper relationships, progress better at works and earn more that pessimists. I once heard someone say, "the best thing about pessimists is that they die young.” ) It’s all to do with the different ways optimists and pessimists think and see things.
For example, consider the well-used question of whether a glass is half full or half empty? It all depends on your perspective. A pessimist would tend to focus on what is not there and see a half empty glass. An optimist would tend to focus on what is there and see a half full glass. They are obviously both right, but the possible impact of these different perspectives is interesting. The pessimist could feel disappointed that half has already gone. The optimist could feel pleased there is still half to enjoy.
Another example is when thinking about the past. Pessimists tend to focus on the things they wish hadn’t happened or that they wish they had done differently. This can lead to feelings of disappointment and/or regret. But optimists prefer to focus on the things they are pleased happened or that they did well. This generally promotes feelings of satisfaction and/or pride.
The same differences perspectives can occur when thinking about the future. Pessimists tend to think about what they don’t want to happen, which can cause worry and stress. Optimists think about what they do want to happen, which can create excitement and anticipation.
The good news is that you can choose what you think about and how you think about it. The bad news is that it can be hard for someone who is used to having a negative perspective to change into someone with a positive one. But it can be done and I know it’s crucial to success in service.
And it can work in the same way for organisations. Many choose to focus on what’s going wrong or not working so they can fix it. That obviously needs to be done, but I think it’s only half the job. It can also make it a negative place to work where all that’s of interest and gets broadcast is things going wrong. But you could also focus on things going right so you can spread them. You can then broadcast all the successes and great results the organisation is having, and so create positive news.
Another example of this often happens when organisations decide to ask for feedback from customers. They ask customers to bring them their complaints. So they do. Then the workforce understandably thinks that all customers ever do is complain. But if they were to ask for comments, and perhaps graded then from Compliments, through Comments to Complaints, then the full spectrum of feedback would be gathered and a more balanced view of customer thoughts would result.
So make sure you choose the right thoughts and focus on the right things. I am convinced that every negative has a positive; you just have to look for it. And finding it can have a big difference on your own life and your organisation’s performance.
© copyright Chris Daffy
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