The Courage to Think Positively

Sometimes we defeat ourselves with our negative self-talk, and just having the guts to argue with ourselves, and believe it’s going to go well will prove us right in the end.

I teach seminars on leadership and communication.  I love my job, and hope I help people become more effective and successful at life and at their jobs.  Most of the time, I deal with a new group of 15-30 people every day.

Some mornings, I’m just not feeling it, and last Tuesday was that day.  I looked at the roster and noticed that there were only 5 people registered.  I rolled my eyes“Well, this is going to be awkward and horrible” I thought to myself.

Standing up in front of the room and leading adults through learning is fun.  It suits my energy level.  But for anything less than 6 people, doing a formal presentation with powerpoint and small group discussion and activities is just weird.  I had 5 registered, and usually 1 or 2 don’t show up.  On a good day.

And on Tuesday, in Dayton, OH, it was snowing.

A slumped down in the chair.  “This is going to suck.”  I said out loud in the giant, empty, generic hotel meeting room.  “I’ll just rush through the content as fast as I can, and we’ll get the hell out of here.”

Then I felt a slap upside my head.  It was my inside “do the best you can” elf.  She put her hands on her hips and said “That’s no way to think!  Turn that frown upside down!”  She blew some glitter in my face.  “See the positive!  Sunshine!  Rainbows!  It’ll be awesome.”

The inner troll growled in.  “Shut up, Perky.  It’s not all sunshine and rainbows.  This is going to suck, and that’s the end of it.”

“NOOOOOOO!” the elf screamed.  “You have to look for the good.”  She farted, and a cloud of rainbow gas floated into the air.

Ok, so this isn’t exactly what happened in reality, but the cartoon reel constantly running in my head was playing this.  The inner voices, raging a battle royale to see how my mood would be walking into this potentially awkward situation.

I took a deep breath and took the high road.  “GUYS, GUYS, GUYS!” I interrupted the din in my head.  “It’ll be fine.  If it’s just a few people, just sit down with them and have a conversation.  Skip these activities, because they won’t work, but work to truly tailor it to what they need.  Actually, it’ll be a better day for them!”

The elf smiled smugly.

“Unless they’re shy, negative people who don’t want to be in this training in the first place and won’t talk to you and are on their phones all day.” The troll grumped.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.  IF we get to it.  Until then, you crawl under it so I can finish getting ready.”

Just then, a woman came in the room.  “ANNE??!”  she said?

I turned around, having absolutely no clue who she was.  “HI!” I said.

“Sandy.  I attended your Breaking My Boundaries Conference a couple of years ago!  I can’t believe you’re here!  Are you teaching this seminar?” 

I couldn’t believe it.  “Yes!  So great to see you again.”  We chatted and caught up for the next 10 minutes, and another woman walked in.  She was of a similar age to Sandy, and they both worked in HR.  Before long, we were all chatting freely and openly.  These women were lovely!

9am rolled around, and the other 3 registered people didn’t show up, so we got started, and had a fabulous day!  They appreciated the individual attention, and I was happy to sit and just chat through everything with them.  They got their questions answered, and I got to spend a really fun and interesting day with 2 engaged, intelligent professional people.

At the end of the day as I was finishing up the paperwork and putting everything away to leave, I thought about how often we let our inner trolls create way more drama than there needs to be around negative anticipation of an event.   Then we walk into the situation looking for the negative, and we usually find evidence of it.

Conversely, if we have the guts to let the elf sprinkle her sunshine and sparkles, and choose to not get bogged down in the negative anticipation, even when things don’t go perfectly, I’m more likely to see the good things, and not have a completely horrible time.

Might as well, right?  Otherwise, we have a crummy time before, during, and then usually, after!

So, think of what could go right.  Think about the positive.  (even if the positive is, “this will end eventually, and I can move on with my life!”)  It seems PollyAnna, but frankly, it’s worked out for me pretty well!

And FYI: The troll doesn’t ever completely go away…you’ve got to keep your elf strong, refill her sprinkles, and keep that negative voice at bay.  The work is never done, but it’s always worth it.

Enjoying the blog? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear what you think, and where you need courage in your life! Maybe I have a story or interview for you! Thanks!

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