INSIGHTS (on leadership/self-leadership)
Did you know that the words you choose to speak out loud actually influence the way you think and view the world, and can help, or hurt, your positive mindset? It’s what’s known as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis and it contributes to ongoing negative thought patterns. For example, say a bad event happens in your day. You can say out loud, “This is devastating!”, or you can say, “This is a challenge.” Say a pile of new tasks gets put on your plate. You can say, “This will be draining!” or you can say “This will be a learning opportunity.” You get the idea. Choosing the harsher words impacts the way you actually think about that event moving forward, and can negatively skew your view of other things as well. So, wait, a minute, you say, I can’t control my thoughts, what if a negative thought just pops into my head? Am I doomed to spiral into a vicious cycle of negativity? Easy now. It’s all about what you choose to verbalize. Research shows it’s 10 times more damaging to your spirit of positivity if you verbalize a negative thought versus just thinking it. It’s better, of course, to try to limit having those negative thoughts in the first place, but that’s much harder to control. You can control whether or not you choose to verbalize those thoughts. Here’s help with that, as I share in my new LinkedIn Learning course, “Staying Positive in the Face of Negativity”:
When you’re about to react to something, practice pausing in the moment before you speak. Think about what you’re going to say out loud. Tweak the language you use to label or describe the situation to be less harsh and more neutral in tone. This isn’t about lying to yourself or being unreasonably optimistic — still acknowledge the truth — just carefully choose the way you describe things so that it doesn’t drag you down. You can even use a simple reminder to help you build this habit. Before speaking when reacting to something, use your wit. Literally. Remember the acronym WIT and quickly recite it to yourself–it stands for “Words Influence Thoughts.” Building the habit of saying this to yourself when you’re about to react to something helps you think before speaking, which fuels positivity versus pervasive pessimism.
IMPERFECTIONS (a mistake I made)
I recently went through a period where my speaking calendar wasn’t 100% full, viewing the upcoming down time as a curse. Companies, still hesitant to bring people back in for live events and not wanting to do virtual events, were inquiring less, and I was left with a few significant holes in my keynoting calendar. I felt panicked. Like a failure. Surely other speakers weren’t experiencing this? What was I doing wrong? When those windows of non-activity arrived, however, I discovered something surprising. For once, I wasn’t overwhelmingly, mind-numbingly busy–and it was fantastic. I was able to think clearly about future projects, fully attend to other parts of my business model and set those elements up for future success, clean up items that were nagging and distracting me. In short, I was able to breathe. And think. And recharge. And reorganize. And reset. Without question, the lack of business allowed me to get more of my business in order, which will produce more business, more orders. It got me thinking about how we put being overwhelmingly busy on a pedestal, like a badge of pride. But the truth is, we need to hold the quiet spaces in between the noisy, chest-thumping, avalanche of activity moments in the highest regard. For it’s within the moments where we’re less occupied and more available that we forge foundations, direction, plans and clarity. It’s in those moments we move from merely being, to becoming.
IMPLEMENTATION (one research-backed strategy, tip, or tool)
A C-suite executive shared this with me (and I recently saw author James Clear share something similar), and I really like it, so I’m sharing it here with you. If you want to get great results, remember the “Three Do Rule”:
1. Do less. The easy thing is to do everything. The most productive, highest-performing people do fewer things, better. Research couldn’t be clearer and more consistent on the need to foster focus versus pursuing every possibility.
2. Do it now. Studies show that we lose 55 productive days a year due to procrastination, 218 minutes a day on average.
3. Do it with intention. Ensure everyone is working against the same objectives and goals and is rewarded for the same thing. Without clear direction and common purpose, “great” is tough to get.