Holding On When You Feel Like Throwing In the Towel:
Seven Tips To Keeping a Positive Mindset
By: Melissa Lagowski
CEO, Founder and Queen Bee, Big Buzz Idea Group
The nonprofit space is filled with good people doing good work, but in being a servant leader, you encounter many different personalities along the way. Most of the people who devote themselves to the nonprofit world are optimistic people hoping to make a meaningful contribution. But, unfortunately, along the way, there are also a lot of curmudgeons and naysayers, and it is incredible how much negativity enters the arena. How can you create a fortress to insulate yourself and your team from these negative influences that can just be so draining and annoying?
It may take a bit more effort than usual but the key is to stay positive. Armed with a positive attitude, anything becomes possible – leading to more positive outcomes and more possibilities.
Staying positive is a mindset. Holding onto a positive mindset in the world we are in today is so important, yet becoming more taxing. As you add in all of the fighting and the warfare, the gangs, the guns and the violence, politics, the suicides and the cancers…some days, just getting up is downright exhausting. It constantly feels like you have to carry a shield to deflect the shit that is flung on you to focus on the good and the positive and the fun! We have to hold onto the light for that is where the joy is. That is where we can make a difference.
Here are seven tips to help you keep your positive mindset when a conversation or environment turns negative:
To stay positive, think about that which you are grateful for. It is easy to get pulled into the negativity, so every day, take a few minutes to think about the good in your life! It’s there, and it helps to remember those things on a daily basis!
Record Your Victories
There are times when it feels like the whole world is lined up to tell us that we are doing everything wrong. We are forced to pivot so many times unexpectedly, that we actually do feel like we are doing everything wrong. But the reality is that the happy, satisfied people are often less likely to offer feedback (your fans, the silent majority). So regardless of the good, the bad or the ugly in your world, take time to start a victory log and write down three things each day that were personal or professional victories for yourself…and, yes, sometimes just getting out of bed can count!
Focus on Fun
Often in the nonprofit arena people give and give until it feels like there is nothing more to give. It is important to remember to take time to nourish your soul – regularly. You have to make time to do what you most enjoy on a regular basis to restore energy and maintain balance. This helps you maintain perspective when the negativity around you seems overwhelming.
They say that each person we meet might be battling struggles that we know nothing about, so each day, give kindness to others. Each of us may have a bad day where a little kindness can be a game-changer. Share a smile or offer a bit of compassion and understanding in your conversations. By simply sharing kindness, you can be an example for others and hopefully sharing kindness will become contagious and others will do it, too.
Some people lose themselves in negativity and there is little we can do to change that. People are as happy as they make their minds up to be, and the most you can do is to not let the negativity penetrate to your mindset. When in a difficult conversation, it is important to show empathy if possible. Try to understand the real core issue that has the other person riled up, then identify possible solutions and ask the other person how they would prefer to see the situation resolved. Identify if the desired solution is even possible, then communicate if the solution is or is not possible and explain why. By staying rooted in the facts and using good communication, you can deflect some of the negativity and try to turn it around into a more positive light. It is important to remember that you can’t please everyone all the time, and that is okay! You are only human.
Perception is reality. As an example, we can get buried in the details of a project because we are working on it daily, while others in the project might have a limited involvement; thus, what seems obvious to us, is not as obvious to them. It’s important that you take time to communicate (even over-communicate sometimes) the details of a project. Sometimes, when we hear what the root of a problem or concern is, it is easy to simply explain why a project is being handled a certain way or why another option won’t work. Honest and open communication can easily resolve a potentially negative situation.
And finally, remember that it is okay to set boundaries. If you are having the same conversation over and over with someone and there is no resolve, it is okay to walk away. It’s important to recognize if a single person is having a large impact on a project or situation and could be negatively impacting others. Is this person requiring more than a fair share of your time and preventing you from creating higher impact? It is okay to walk away or postpone a conversation. And if you have tried everything possible to work with someone and it is just not changing, it is okay to tell them that you will not continue to discuss this particular problem anymore and/or remove someone from a project for the greater good.
Maintain a positive mindset. That can be easier said than done, of course, but this is a vital tool in the trenches and a powerful weapon in the battle against a dangerous enemy (negativity) that surrounds us on a regular basis. Surrendering to negativity is a choice, so stay strong, stay balance and stay positive!