How to Improve Your Performance In Anything

Isn’t this rich?

Those of us who practice positive thinking often face great skepticism, if not downright ridicule. How sweet it is, then, to see business guru Seth Godin state that “All the evidence I’ve seen shows that positive thinking and confidence improves performance. In anything.”

Just in case you missed it, that’s IN ANYTHING.

Then he asks the key question: “Why do smart people engage in negative thinking? ”

I’ve often wondered the same. It seems to me that if you choose to look at the positive side of any given situation, you are energized by aligning yourself with new possibilities. You feel good, you notice wonderful things that are happening around you, life appears to be exciting and hopeful.

Godin’s take on the subject is that “negative thinking feels good:”

In its own way, we believe that negative thinking works. Negative thinking feels realistic, or soothes our pain, or eases our embarrassment. Negative thinking protects us and lowers expectations.

In many ways, negative thinking is a lot more fun than positive thinking. So we do it.

I have to admit this surprised me: negative thinking is fun? I suppose so, if your mindset is fixated on failure and humiliation. It may be more tolerable than those situations, but how does that kind of fun compare to  the exhilaration of learning new skills and acquiring new knowledge, or the elation that comes from putting them into practice in your life and work, or the satisfaction of achieving something that was once only a notation on your dream list?

Godin hammers his argument further home with:

If positive thinking was easy, we’d do it all the time. Compounding this difficulty is our belief that the easy thing (negative thinking) is actually appropriate, it actually works for us. The data is irrelevant. We’re the exception, so we say.

Positive thinking is hard. Worth it, though.

Positive thinking is only hard if you have been consistently practicing negative thinking for a long time. It can be turned around.

Your performance depends on it.


About CarolWiebe

Art entices, inspires, and delights me. Art is a vehicle for laughter, tears, wonder, enlightenment--taking me on a constant path of discovery. You can't say that about housework (except, perhaps, for the crying part).
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5 Responses to How to Improve Your Performance In Anything

  1. Flora says:

    Another interesting post of yours Carol.
    As an experienced negative and positive thinker here are my two cents on the subject. ;-)
    Negative thinking is a way (we think) of cushioning the fall, the disappointment about future and present bad things. We think we are anticipating the future and we don’t want to be shocked by it. It’s also a way of following the status quo: “I’ll never be able to do ‘x’, so why bother thinking that I can”.
    Positive thinking is alot more work because it’s about forging ahead and dreaming the impossible.
    I think that the traditional news media encourages negative, helpless thinking and the more dire the reports are, the more helplessly we react. Is that a paradox?
    At the same time,people want to have hope. I think that’s one reason that the Obama message was so powerfully received. For sure, it’s an interesting subject you raise!
    I’m going to read the Seth piece now. Thanks for this!

  2. Barb says:

    Really appeciated your most recent post on positive and negative thinking, and Flora’s comment too. I had just sent a message (rambling thoughts actually) to our daughter last night – interesting how your words affirmed my thought :) Our daughter is immersed in her art (photography)and much of it highlights the darker side of life. She is driven to expose the injustices in the world and although I completely understand that, I would love for her to let her wonderfully positive light shine too.

  3. Something that is key to all things, something to learn, and then learn again, and again. Thanks Carol.

  4. I am a recovering negative thinker, and it’s only in the last five years that I’ve become much more aware of my negative thinking, enough to reprimand myself when I see it happening. Just reaching that point, though, where I’m actually conscious of the negative thinking and can cut it short, has been a huge step! I am determined to get those brain wheels of mine out of the ruts created by years of stinkin’ thinkin’…loved this post. :~)

    • carolwiebe says:

      Fantastic, Sherri. Becoming conscious of negative thinking is a huge step. Congratulations, because it means your life is a lot happier. I know from personal experience.

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