You’ve all heard this particular bit of advice on positivity along with all the clichés about silver linings and half-full glasses. It is quite easy to tell someone to be positive but what really matters is the thinking behind it. You can repeat ‘Be positive’ until you’re blue in the face and you can still be bitter and negative about everything. Instead, every time you have a negative thought or attitude, ask yourself why and argue with your negative side. With time, you will automatically question every negative thought.
In India, especially, we have a first-place obsession. From ATM lines to education and from traffic signals to promotions, it’s all about Number 1. We justify it by saying that no one remembers who came second. While that may be true, you need to remember that not everyone can be first. Countless road accidents and depressed engineers have not taught us anything at all about the rat race. While it is important to be ambitious, it is as important to be realistic. There is nothing wrong with not coming first. As long as you have a spot, it means you are working on getting somewhere and that is enough. Your journey is your own. It does not need validation from other people for you to be happy with your work.
If you still are determined to compare, then do it the right way. Don’t do it the way most Indian parents do with your genius cousin who can do no wrong. That is the best way to discourage yourself. Instead of comparing yourself to people above you, look at those below. That is sure to change your attitude in a heartbeat. That isn’t to say you make excuses. Everything, including comparison, must be done in small doses. Nothing too extremist. Comparing yourself to those above and those below too much are both problematic. The upper extreme will cause disillusionment and the lower extreme can cause lethargy. Instead, a healthy dose of reality and optimism is what you need.
If you find yourself getting too comfortable and repeatedly using ‘but I have done this and this and this’ in your arguments, that may be the time to look at the superstars (maybe not your genius cousin, yet). If you find yourself constantly convinced that you’re going to fail, then that is the time to look below and see how far you’ve come. In negative situations, it is always helpful to remind yourself of the journey and what all you have achieved that makes you more than capable of handling this particular problem. Being positive and happy depends on you and where you’re looking. Are you looking at the darkness of the clouds or the silver lining?
This is applicable to every situation in life. From simple things like buying a product in a store to big business decisions. At every turn, especially in a start-up situation, you will wonder if this is the time to do it. Whether you could get a better offer later. Whether starting now is the best idea. If you never start, you’ll never know if it could have worked. If you don’t invest, you might also regret because that was an offer that you missed out on because of fear. As Babe Ruth famously said, “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.”
Every start-up, on some level, rests on the positivity of its founders. It requires belief and faith in an idea to become an entrepreneur. You have to enough faith in your idea to be able to sell to your team and to investors. Your team relies on you for inspiration. If you are constantly bitter or negative, that is the environment you bring to the office. Wouldn’t a positive pumped-up attitude at the workplace be way more useful than a defeated, waiting-for-the-next-fall atmosphere? In terms of investors, if you are not convinced enough of your own idea, how will you convince another? This attitude of positivity extends to day-to-day functioning. When there is a problem, your attitude determines your team’s attitude. It also defines whether and how the problem is dealt with. As mentioned above, be positive and as the clichés often fail to say, be realistic.
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