In my good times and my bad times being positive and say- ing to myself, Okay I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing and do it well, and have a great attitude and stay positive, has made a difference in my life. What you focus on is what you create. I didn’t want to be the person who shuts down when stressed, worried, or challenged. I wanted to practice positivity so that I could keep my state of mind peaceful. No longer did I want to believe I couldn’t solve problems. Being positive requires positive action of some kind. Whether it is a positive thought, breathing, meditation, or a kind act or kind words, positive action stops the inertia that forms when you are stuck in the rut of negativity. Nothing gets done if you think catastrophically.
For instance, I really believed I didn’t know what I could do to help my mother, but calling and reaching out to Steve allowed me the room to vent, so that I could free up the real estate in my head for positive self-talk. Then, I experienced a bit more motion when I called a social worker and learned some options available to me. If had stayed in freak- out reaction mode I would never have gotten anything accomplished. Remaining positive is hard, and it’s not a state of mind that I naturally walk around in, but even when it seems impossible to maintain positivity, I remind myself how it al- ways seems to get me to the next level, how it allows me to clear my mind just enough to think about the next thing that needs to be done. I find peace in knowing and trusting that fact. It makes the world a much better place.
My secret to managing a state of positivity is breathing. I could be in the middle of a crisis, in the middle of a disagree- ment, or in the middle of traffic; deep breathing transcends all kinds of negativity and combats reactivity in the moment. For me, I take four deep, long breaths. Four breaths give me enough time to calm down before I say or do anything regret- table. If I don’t breathe and keep cool, I know that negativity will get my cortisol levels rockin’ and rollin’. But in the four- breath-long pause, I stop for a moment before the moment stops me.
Somewhere in there you possess the seven traits that make you a great entrepreneur and businessperson, but if you try to build them upon one another with the mortar of negativity, your ladder of success will tumble down. You cannot build anything, acquire anything, maintain anything, or bounce back when you are in a mental state of disarray. Creating your own practices of positivity will provide you the peace of mind necessary for success in all your endeavors.
The good news is you could be plagued by the bad habit of harried thinking, like I used to be, or you can teach yourself some new tricks. I asked Sandra Yancey, CEO and founder of eWomenNetwork, her thoughts on keeping a positive attitude, and just like a magnetic leader, she captivated me with her ideas. She describes eWomenNetwork as a value-driven and value-based organization, with one of their core values as “giving first and sharing always.”
It is an act of kindness to be positive toward others and to help others. “My mother always told me, ‘give without remembering and take without forgetting,’” Sandra told me. “We give and we extend kindness in terms of offering positive support in business.”5 When I asked her what one of the most important things about fostering a positive attitude is, she said:
I don’t think you can ever underestimate the power of a smile. It can shape not only the other person’s day but your own. I believe that in many ways, your day will go in direct proportion with the corners of your mouth. You have to be kind to yourself as much as you have to be kind to others. When you smile, you tend to see things a little bit differently, and that is an act of kindness that is easy enough to give to yourself.
Sandra knows how hard running a business is, especially one as groundbreaking and successful as eWomenNetwork. She was blunt when she told me that entrepreneurs need to be a little bit gentler and kinder and graceful as they try things. “Not everything is going to work, and our stinkin’ thinkin’ can prevent us from taking the necessary risks that help us move the next step forward to growing our business,” she said. “There is a direct correlation between our mindset and the money we make. It has a lot do to with positivity and self-kindness.”
She explained that positivity includes the kinds of words we use toward ourselves and others. In fact, Sandra said she has found that kindness through positive words creates confidence. As you are kind to others, you show them you appreciate what they’ve done, you give them the attagirls, attaboys that fuels the fire in their bellies.” Positive communication, according to Sandra, can be maximized and made more effective by taking it out of email or verbal form. “I have been struck by the realization that if I take words of positivity I just said aloud and write them down in a card, the impact of those kind words increases tenfold. The notes I have given over the years wind up on people’s cork boards, a permanent keepsake of kindness.”