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Pos­i­tive­ness means main­tain­ing a state of pos­i­tive expec­ta­tions about peo­ple and sit­u­a­tions, includ­ing a pos­i­tive state of ener­gy in your thoughts and emo­tion­al pat­terns. Dr. Nor­man Vin­cent Peale’s book, The Pow­er of Pos­i­tive Think­ing, was pub­lished over 40 years ago and it con­tin­ues to sell well because it con­tains such a uni­ver­sal truth: The atti­tudes we hold help to shape the real­i­ty we expe­ri­ence.

Hav­ing a pos­i­tive atti­tude isn’t some­thing you just tack on to your old per­son­al­i­ty. That pos­i­tive­ness isn’t exter­nal like a new suit. It comes from deep with­in you. It has to or it would get wiped out with the first sign of a coun­ter­vail­ing neg­a­tive force. Pos­i­tive­ness is built on hav­ing your own pos­i­tive life phi­los­o­phy, on know­ing what strengths you have, and on sur­round­ing your­self with oth­er sources of pos­i­tive­ness.

Many of us haven’t tak­en the time to con­sid­er what our own life phi­los­o­phy is. If you haven’t, it doesn’t mean you don’t have one. You’re just oper­at­ing from it uncon­scious­ly. By life phi­los­o­phy, I mean, in sim­ple terms, some­thing like: I know I’m here to live up to my poten­tial, make a con­tri­bu­tion to soci­ety, and have a good time. Some­one else might say: I’m here to serve God through being of ser­vice to my fel­low human beings. Anoth­er phi­los­o­phy might be: I’m here to show oth­ers, that despite phys­i­cal hand­i­caps, you can lead a pro­duc­tive life and enjoy what you have.

Your per­son­al phi­los­o­phy can con­tain a vision such as: I’m here to save the plan­et from envi­ron­men­tal destruc­tion. Or, I’m a valu­able mem­ber of a com­pa­ny that’s improv­ing the way human beings com­mu­ni­cate with one anoth­er. Your phi­los­o­phy acknowl­edges who you are and what your pur­pose is for being alive.

A tru­ly pos­i­tive phi­los­o­phy, one that’s moti­vat­ing, encom­pass­es more than just you. Again, if you haven’t for­mu­lat­ed one, your uncon­scious per­son­al phi­los­o­phy might sound some­thing like: I’m here to make it through the day, day after day, until I die. Or, I’m here to grab as much as I can of mate­r­i­al pos­ses­sions and thrills, because you only live once. Hav­ing a well-artic­u­lat­ed per­son­al phi­los­o­phy gives you a sense of pur­pose and it can help you get through rough times as well.

The sec­ond aspect of pos­i­tive­ness comes from know­ing what strengths you have to build on to achieve that life phi­los­o­phy. This involves tak­ing a per­son­al inven­to­ry about your tal­ents and skills and also what you like to do. Ide­al­ly, we’d all like to make a liv­ing or spend our time doing what we love. The peo­ple who come the clos­est to that are those who actu­al­ly take the time to fig­ure out what they love doing. Then you fig­ure out what skills you have and which ones you need and take a step clos­er to match­ing your ide­al life’s work with the real­i­ty of your work life.

Hav­ing a pos­i­tive life phi­los­o­phy and know­ing what strengths you have to build on will only get you so far.

The third aspect of pos­i­tive­ness is sur­round­ing your­self with oth­er sources of the same ener­gy. Occa­sion­al­ly we hear sto­ries of peo­ple who strug­gle against great odds, prove the naysay­ers wrong and achieve the near­ly impos­si­ble. They turn around a defunct com­pa­ny, they stop a high­way from going through vir­gin land, they bring out a new prod­uct line in record time, or they beat the odds on ter­mi­nal can­cer.

By def­i­n­i­tion, they had to have had a pos­i­tive phi­los­o­phy to get them there and they had to know what they could do them­selves and what they need­ed to get from oth­ers. Those sto­ries rarely men­tion the fact that those peo­ple always had some oth­er source of pos­i­tive ener­gy out­side them­selves that kept them going. Most prob­a­bly it was oth­er peo­ple they could rely on for sup­port. Oth­er peo­ple who were also pos­i­tive about their abil­i­ty to suc­ceed. Per­haps they were also moti­vat­ed by the exam­ple of some his­tor­i­cal fig­ure. Per­haps they drew strength from a spir­i­tu­al source. The point is, they didn’t do it alone. They need­ed to be embed­ded in some sort of sup­port­ive, pos­i­tive con­text that recharged them when their own bat­ter­ies were run­ning low.

Ide­al­ly, you sur­round your­self with the kinds of peo­ple who exhib­it the pos­i­tive traits we’re talk­ing about. Avoid the two-dimen­sion­al folks who tend toward the neg­a­tive traits we dis­cussed ear­li­er — the ones who see things as either/or, right or wrong, and don’t care to enter­tain any oth­er thoughts. These peo­ple don’t help recharge; they drain you.

Ever since Dr. Peale intro­duced his for­mu­la­tion of pos­i­tive think­ing, we’ve been hear­ing the notion of “hav­ing a pos­i­tive atti­tude” from every moti­va­tion­al book and speak­er you could name. It’s not that we don’t need to be remind­ed once in a while to get out of a neg­a­tiv­i­ty rut. We do. But the way “pos­i­tive atti­tude” is some­times pre­sent­ed like buy­ing a new out­fit or get­ting a hair­cut. Just go out and do it. How?

I hope in this brief dis­cus­sion I’ve giv­en you the begin­nings of a deep­er under­stand­ing of the "how." It begins inside you with a pos­i­tive life phi­los­o­phy, a pos­i­tive sense of who you are and what you bring to the table of life. And it requires that you embed your­self in a con­text of pos­i­tive­ness — to tap sources beyond your­self. If this trait isn’t already in your reper­toire, then begin here. The trait of pos­i­tive­ness is so attrac­tive, oth­er peo­ple will be drawn to you.

Tony Alessandra
Dr. Tony Alessan­dra has a street-wise, col­lege-smart per­spec­tive on busi­ness, hav­ing been raised in the hous­ing projects of NYC to even­tu­al­ly real­iz­ing suc­cess as a grad­u­ate pro­fes­sor of mar­ket­ing, inter­net entre­pre­neur, busi­ness author, and hall-of-fame keynote speak­er. He earned a BBA from Notre Dame, a MBA from the Univ. of Con­necti­cut and his PhD in mar­ket­ing from Geor­gia State Uni­ver­si­ty (1976). Known as “Dr. Tony” he’s authored 30+ books and 100+ audio/video pro­grams. He was induct­ed into the NSA Speak­ers Hall of Fame (1985) and Top Sales World’s Hall of Fame (2010). Meet­ings & Con­ven­tions Mag­a­zine has called him “one of America’s most elec­tri­fy­ing speak­ers”. Dr. Tony is also the Founder/CVO of Assess­ments 24×7. Assess­ments 24×7 is a glob­al leader of online DISC assess­ments, deliv­ered from easy-to-use online accounts pop­u­lar with busi­ness coach­es and For­tune 500 train­ers around the world.
Tony Alessandra

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