I recently worked with a company to solve a long-standing problem in one of their departments. The stressed owner of the company was frustrated at the lack of positive results.
The company had brought in professionals over the years but to no avail. In fact, things were getting worse. Shortly after I came on-board to help, the owner sent out an email to his staff complaining about another round of exceedingly poor results. I replied to all that this was perfect because there was only one way to go: up.
The owner almost went ballistic! But he didn’t fire me. (I guess he was desperate, and I had guaranteed that I would solve his problem or he wouldn’t have to pay.)
As business leaders, why do we so often focus on the negative?
Frustration! We’re frustrated because in spite of our efforts for success, we’re running into roadblocks. We get frustrated when we myopically focus too long on our problem. We get frustrated because all our interventions are unsuccessful. We become frustrated because we’re the leaders and leaders are supposed to know how to fix the problems, and here we have this big unsolvable problem.
When this frustration happens, we too often lash out and focus on the negative.
It’s easy to find problems and be critical of those around us when nobody seems to be doing anything right. It’s easy to see drama and dysfunction when we’re unable to see the great things that are happening, the wonderful people we have.
When we get into that downhill spiral of negativity, it’s often hard to change until we hit rock bottom. When this happens in a business, we start losing morale, staff and finally, sadly, customers. Negativity can sink a business very quickly.
Nobody likes to be around a negative person, especially a negative leader, just as nobody wants to deal with a company where the vibes are bad. We have to figure out ways to break the cycle of negativity and create a positive culture within our organizations.
Over the next couple months, I worked with the company’s staff individually and collectively to figure out how to reverse the poor results. We started focusing on all the positive things that were happening in the department. We looked at poor results as challenges, not failures. And they came up with solutions that they committed to.
As results started to improve, they celebrated their successes. They pumped each other up and shared updates of the achievements the team started seeing. Within weeks, it seemed like they had turned the corner.
While it might seem incredible that this team was able to fix a long-standing problem in a few months, the key was focusing on success and not the failures. Science shows that when we look for good things that are happening, we find them. Our brain is programmed to search out whatever we tell it to focus on. When we train our teams to focus on success, their brains will follow. Ultimately, the success of our company is determined by the culture we breed.
Breed a culture of success by focusing on it and rewarding it within your organization. See if you can get the same results this company did.
Troy Media columnist David Fuller, MBA, is a certified professional business coach and author who helps business leaders ensure that their companies are successful. David is author of the book Profit Yourself Healthy.
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