There are many reasons why building a positive mindset is essential for your career. In his book “To Sell Is Human,” Dan Pink shares three ways we can develop a positive mindset.
1) Positive Mindset Shift – Positive Self-talk
You know that voice in your head? That one that is continually buzzing with judgments and self-doubt?
Yup, you know the one.
What if I told you that is was possible to use this voice to prime your unconscious mind to focus on the positive.
Most self-help gurus (like Tony Robbins in the United States or Paul McKenna in the United Kingdom) would tell you to use positive affirmations to develop a positive attitude.
Statements like, “I’m strong,” “I’ve got this,” or “I will be the world’s greatest leader,” are common affirmations that people use.
While affirmations can be useful for some people, they never seemed to work for me.
That is until I changed the affirmations into a question.
It turns out questioning one’s ability is more effective than your run of the mill affirmation.
According to social scientists, self-questioning people are 50 percent more effective when compared to self-affirming people.
Instead of saying “I’m strong” ask yourself, “How can I use my strengths in this situation?”
Instead of pumping yourself up with an “I’ve got this!” pose the question “How can I turn this situation into my benefit?”
And finally, instead of a vision statement like “I will be the world’s greatest leader,” future pace with a “Can I be the world’s greatest leader?”
2) Positive Mindset Shift – Positive Ratios
The next secret to developing a positive mindset is to monitor the ratio of positive emotions for every negative.
Yup, social scientists have measured this as well.
Dan Pink writes, “What they discovered was that those with equal – that is, 1 to 1 – balance of positive and negative emotions had no higher well-being than those whose emotions were predominantly negative. Both groups generally were languishing. Even more surprising, people whose ratio was 2 to 1 positive-to-negative were also no happier than those whose negative emotions exceeded their positive ones. But once the balance between emotions hit a certain number, everything tipped.”
Our tipping point is a magical 3 to 1 – well 2.9013 to 1, to be exact.
“Once positive emotions outnumbered negative emotions by 3 to 1 — that is, for every three instances of feeling gratitude, interest, or contentment, they experienced only one instance of anger, guilt, or embarrassment — people generally flourished. Those below that ratio usually did not.”
You might be asking, is it possible to be too positive? The answer would be yes. Once the ratio hits around 11 to 1, it tends to do more harm than good. It turns out we need at least a little negativity to prevent us from becoming self-delusional.
3) Positive Mindset Shift – Positive Stories
The final secret to developing a positive mindset is to build the habit of an optimistic explanatory style.
An explanatory style is the self-talk after a negative situation occurs.
When you create a negative story (pessimistic explanatory style), you perceive bad events as permanent, pervasive and personal. Even if you could do something to turn the situation around, your negative self-talk is preventing you from performing at your best.
Those with an optimistic explanatory style create positive stories about the negative events in their lives. They view negative events as temporary rather than permanent, specific rather than universal, and external rather than personal.
Let’s look at an example …
Imagine you are at work and your boss yells at you. What story do you tell yourself about this event?
If you believe that “My boss is always mean” or “All bosses are jerks” or “I’m incompetent at my job,” you have a pessimistic explanatory style and have created a negative story from this situation.
While a person with an optimistic explanatory style would create a positive story that would look something like this, “My boss is having an awful day, and I just happened to be in the line of fire when he lost it.”
The good news is that anyone can change a negative story to a positive one via a process called reframing.
When you find yourself caught up in a negative story, pause, take a deep breath, and notice the negative pattern that you have created. When you remain open to the idea that there is a silver lining, you will eventually find it.
There are three tools available to us to build a positive mindset:
1) Positive Self-talk – Instead of positive statements (aka affirmations) use questions.
2) Positive Ratios – Aim for a 3 to 1 ratio – at least three positive thoughts for every negative one.
3) Positive Stories – Reframe the situation – look for the positive in every situation – and create a positive spin.
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