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Extraordinary Coach Culture: The Positive Focus®
As originally published on Forbes.com
High-tech, high-change, high-stress. In today’s business environment, creating a positive company culture isn’t optional. It’s not just a “nice thing to do.” It’s essential — and strategic.
Do you want your team to be highly responsive to change — to be able to handle the shifts in technology and your marketplace with creativity and resilience?
If you do, then make focusing on progress, not perfection, one of your core values. By making this a habit, you’ll develop a positive culture that’s upbeat, innovative, and adaptable no matter what happens.
Confident people make decisions, take action, and take risks. If you want to keep your team continually moving forward, encouraging a positive mindset is one of the best things you can do as their leader.
The Positive Focus
Our No. 1 company value is “always focus on the positive.” It’s not that we ignore problems, but we focus our attention on what is working in order to generate more of it.
To make it easier to stay in the positive zone, we count on a tool we call The Positive Focus. Not only do our clients use this exercise at every quarterly workshop, it’s the tool our team reaches for the most to remind us that even if it doesn’t seem like it, good things and progress are happening every day. With regular use, it can become a life-changing habit.
True to its name, this exercise gets you focused on the positive: your accomplishments, wins, and all the great things that are going on in your life.
You can do a Positive Focus in four simple steps:
- Write down your five most important achievements in a day, week, quarter, or year.
- Write down the reason each one is important to you.
- What is the next step you want to take for each?
- Finally, what is a specific first action that will move you forward right away?
A quick tip: I recommend that the first action involve a verb and be small and simple. “Call,” “write,” “do,” “schedule,” “purchase,” “send,” “meet.” It should be something you can easily do as soon as possible. This has a certain power to it that gets the ball rolling.
We start every meeting, big or small, with a Positive Focus. A lot of “stuff” gets in the way of being mentally present, so giving people a few minutes to focus on the positive is a profound way to let the other stuff go and be in the moment. The Positive Focus can also be used before an event, presentation, conversation, or even client meetings.
In smaller meetings, we go around the table and share a win or breakthrough, usually from the previous week. In our big company meetings, we break out into pairs or groups to share our achievements since the last meeting. It can also be as simple as asking what each person is excited or happy about. The energy that comes from everyone sharing that positive thought is powerful.
A company culture with a focus on the positive creates the optimal environment for success. Discover more of Shannon Waller’s strategies for creating successful teamwork in her book, The Team Success Handbook.
Beware Of The Perfection Trap
In working to create a positive culture, it’s important to be aware of the danger of perfectionism. We’re not talking about striving for perfection; we’re striving for progress.
Some people, though, fall into the trap of thinking that something has to be completely finished for it to be an achievement. It has to be Michelangelo’s David for it to be considered good enough. It has to be perfect.
I say no to all of the above. Making progress is an achievement. Tracking small wins leads to big wins, and that creates traction and momentum.
I suggest adopting the “progress, not perfection” motto. Often attributed to alcoholism recovery programs, it’s a worthwhile “note to self” in any goal-focused situation.
Think Differently When Things Don’t Go As Planned
Of course things don’t always go the way we had hoped. How do you stay positive and confident?
Dan Sullivan has this great advice, which gives you a different way to think about what’s happened and steers you onto a more positive track: “Always be winning or learning.”
Dan sees situations that didn’t work as opportunities for learning and growth. Even when things go off the rails, look for the lessons you can use the next time to not only avoid a repeat but to achieve a successful outcome.
Looking for the positive is really training your brain to find the progress. Even if you had a wreck of a day, find three things that did work. After a while, doing this becomes so natural, you won’t even realize you’re doing it.
Confidence: The Great Game Changer
Positivity = Progress = Confidence
A quote I once came across proposed that when people are sure of what’s working, they have the courage to look for improvements, and even greater progress is achieved.
I especially love The Positive Focus because it creates confidence. Once we realize that we’re always making progress, we can stay calm and not reactive to figure out the next area of progress no matter what happens. This makes us strong, capable, and resilient. Don’t we want that for our teams, ourselves, and our companies?
Why not adopt the habit of doing The Positive Focus for yourself, and then share the exercise with your team? With some momentum behind it, this habit can turn into a positivity mindset that creates greater confidence to always be moving things forward.
In our role as leaders, it’s up to us to encourage and support a company culture built on the positive, with one important caveat: It’s all about progress, not perfection.
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