It sounds so clichéd, but positive thinking has an enormous impact on your career.
While your skillset is vital for progress at work, it is your ability to reframe your thoughts optimistically, that plays the pivotal role, in you achieving any sustainable success at work.
For instance, this week I had to coach a senior manager who is struggling at his job. It turns out that the problem was not that he was incompetent or disengaged.
It was entirely founded on stress.
And after some probing, I gleaned that the stressor was in fact an external problem arising from some complications he faced with a former employee. As we chatted, I worked out that he had, in fact, acted very professionally, and continues to enjoy the full support of his leadership.
At a glance, his worry and stress was totally unnecessary. But unfortunately, the issue weighed so heavily on him, that it adversely affected his capacity to function effectively.
I spent time helping him decipher his problem. Our discussions gave him some context to put things into perspective. And, this process helped him recalibrate his thinking pattern. After our coaching engagement, he felt more at ease with having to deal with this rather tricky situation.
This is a common dilemma for many people that I coach. They feel tremendous stress, and upon reflection, often, this condition is caused purely by negative thinking.
Resonating negatively is a common condition afflicting many.
Not long ago, I was waiting to board an early flight to Singapore. Judging by the number of people in suits with solemn faces, my flight was full of very important people, heading down south, invariably to some very important meetings.
It was a stormy morning, and before long, the dreaded airline announcement came through that our flight was delayed. There was a collective sigh of displeasure echoing across the departure lounge.
In an instant, a fastidious man sitting on the table next to me, with some colleagues, exclaimed how flying this particular airline was a complete waste of time.
It was obvious that he was the thought leader of his cohort, because the rest earnestly agreed with him.
He then proceeded to telephone someone, I assumed in Singapore, to complain mercilessly that they had booked his team on the wrong airline; because “once again” the flight was delayed.
I was really flabbergasted. I could not understand how he was blaming the airline for bad weather.
We could all see the thunderstorm raging outside, and quite frankly, I was thankful that we were not going to be flying in those conditions.
Yes, it was inconvenient.
And, of course meetings would have to be rescheduled. I too, had to make a phone call to inform my client that we had to postpone his coaching session by a few hours.
I am certain that many at the airport had to do the same. But I also suspect that most people there, who got their day disrupted, were disgruntled yet remained thankful that their lives were not endangered.
This guy just managed to dive straight into the negative zone. And to make matters worse, he was trying to influence everyone around him.
He turned to me at some point to moan about the delay. I had to politely whip out my mobile phone, and pretend to urgently deal with something, because I didn’t want his negative energy disturbing me.
I have learnt that negative thoughts make me worry and stress, in the most inappropriate ways.
A study on the effects of worry and our ability to perform tasks by Pennsylvania State University cited in the Journal of Clinical Psychology in 1990, shows that people who are anxious fifty percent of the time or more, have a reduced ability to sort objects, as the difficulty of those tasks increased.
The research went on to demonstrate that this disruption was a result of increased levels of negative thoughts. It appears that when the brain is faced with complex tasks, negative thinking actually hurts your ability to process information, and think clearly.
Just remember that thinking negatively about your problems doesn’t solve anything. It actually makes it harder for you to create any useful solution.
The man I encountered at the airport definitely over-reacted to the stress of the delay. And, based on this research, his brain was only focusing on the negative, and therefore he was unable to think constructively.
Further, a 2014 study at the University of Berkeley in California indicates that stress from negative thinking creates changes in the brain that have an impact on mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, schizophrenia, and mood disorders.
Psychologist, and author of the book “Hardwiring Happiness”, Dr. Rick Hanson argues that if you successfully train your mind to replace negative thoughts with positive or constructive ones, you will experience less anxiety and depression.
When you learn to look at the silver linings in every situation, you will have greater compassion, love, contentment, joy, gratitude, self-esteem, and satisfaction with life; and overall happiness.
Isn’t this what you want at work, and in life?