"You are the sum total of everything you’ve ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot--it’s all there . Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive." Maya Angelou
As far back as I can remember, I’ve always been a positive person. My glass is always half-full, never half-empty and always look for the positive out of the negative. Life is too short to allow negative things or negative people to pull you down the proverbial rabbit hole. I have to attribute my decision to always be positive to my dad. I grew up in a small, middle-class home in a suburb of Chicago. My parents were a product of the great depression, which means they were conservative because they knew what it meant to be without. Growing up in the ’60s was a simpler time, especially compared to the times we live in today. As kids, we had to do our chores which included feeding the dog and cleaning our room, just like a million other kids. Once our chores were finished, we would head outside to play with our friends in the neighborhood. Mom had us check-in for lunch and be home by 5 pm because dad always walked in the door by 5:20 pm and dinner was always at 5:30 pm every night. We would sit around the dinner table and dad would talk about this idea or that idea for a business, he hated his job and dreamed of a way to do his own thing while supporting his family. Of course, being conservative and growing up in the great depression, he would never follow his dreams; it was to much of a risk. It was more important to guarantee he could provide for his family, so the risk was not worth the reward to him. So, he went to work every day and did the minimum to get a paycheck. Being middle class allowed us to live a comfortable life, but it didn’t really allow us to have extra money. When things broke or had to be fixed, dad didn’t want to hire someone; he would just do it himself to save money. Over time, he actually became pretty good at it, but during all those learning times, he had a phrase that I heard quite a bit, “damn Murphy got me again’. Who was Murphy you might be asking? Edward Murphy was an American aerospace engineer who worked on safety-critical systems. He is best known for his namesake Murphy's law, which is said to state, "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong". I have to say I heard that comment quite a bit growing up. The other phrase he would use a lot was ‘if I had a rubber duck, it would drown’. Now I don’t want you to get the wrong impression of my dad, he was an amazing dad, husband, grandfather, and overall person. He just had those moments when nothing seemed to go right. Haven’t we all had those moments? This was the 60’s and 70’s; he didn’t have YouTube, instead he had a book and the trial and error method. So when things went wrong, it had to be Murphy’s fault, right?
Either way, I vowed at a very young age to never let Murphy into my life and that decision has led me well in life.
The Power of Positive Energy
The power of positive energy is infectious, especially when you get multiple people with positive energy all get together in the same space. They feed off each other which in turn allows them to freely give each other positive energy. I should take a moment to let you know that I absolutely believe we can give people our positive energy and it can change any situation or environment. But beware of the energy stealers. Did you ever talk with someone and when you’re done, you’re exhausted? I think we all have that person in our life. The explanation for this, according to James Redfield's ’ 1993 book called the Celestine Prophesy (which if you’ve never read, I highly recommend) is called ‘Control Dramas’. In the book, Redfield talks about the premise of stealing energy from each other and defines 4 different types.
The 4 Types of Energy Stealers
The Intimidator, whom he defines as the most aggressive. This person steals energy from other people by dominating them and making them feel inferior, either with physical or verbal aggression, so the intimidator gets to feel better and the other people feel worse.
The Interrogator, gets to feel good by asking questions that are borderline aggressive, certainly aimed at making the other person feel small so that the interrogator can feel superior to them. Questions like “Have you thought about going on a diet?”, “Why don’t you do that differently?” and “Why are you so hopeless?” and “Come on, TALK to me!” are not nice questions. And questions like “You know why that happened don’t you?” are tricky because whatever you say they are going to say “Oh no no no, you’ve missed the point”. That’s the interrogator.
The Aloof, is a common response to an Interrogator parent or an Interrogator partner – the Aloof copes with other people by acting distant & hiding what they really think, and either not answering at all or answering evasively, maybe with short non-committal answers like “Maybe” or “I don’t know really”. They might drop vague hints, which in turn may mean that you ask even more questions in order to engage with them. You can imagine how an Aloof person could use this as a defensive strategy, but also you can see how the aloof will encourage others to interrogate them to try to find out what they really think. The Aloof encourages the Interrogator, and the Interrogator encourages the Aloof.
Finally, The Poor Me. This person takes the victim position, saying their life is awful and it’s all unfair; using guilt or pity to manipulate you. They might say “It’s fine, I’ll just carry on, I’m used to doing everything by myself” or even “After all I have done for you, you let me down like this.”
Beware of these energy stealers, they can quickly and easily zap all the positive energy out of any situation if you allow them to.
The power of positive influence can’t be denied. As a leader, you have to make a choice. Will you be a positive influence, or will you use one of the control dramas to take energy from your people?
Let’s take a moment to look at the results of positive influence in your company:
People with a positive attitude tend to attract others with a similar personality
Reduces stress, allowing people to feel better about work
Increases productivity, making people feel inspired
Allows people to feel confident, and inspired
Helps people to voice ideas and concerns; they feel part of the company direction
Creates an environment where people feel appreciated
Build common purpose, everyone knows what is expected
Clarifies the direction, everyone is working towards a common goal
Inspires teamwork; people are more willing to work through differences
Achieve better results, goals are met and the company thrives
So the question I have for you is this; are you a positive leader? If not, why not? You can accomplish so much more through positive influence. One of the saddest things I can think of is when people wake up every morning, dreading their job and being afraid to do anything about it (i.e. my dad, 32 years at a job he hated but stayed with because it gave him financial security). As an owner, C-Level, or just a leader in your company, you have the power to be a positive influence to your people. Remember this stat, 79% of people leave their job because they feel unappreciated, that is the power of negative energy.
If you are reading this and you feel you need to change the way you interact with your people, then it’s time to Pull the Chute. Not sure where to begin? Let me help, contact me today for a free one-hour consultation call. (link)