How do you honestly answer the quetion, “So how was your day today?” Would you use any of these words to describe how you might have felt?
This is a list of the most common “emotion” words we use.
Only six of them are positive.
Does this mean we are negative people?
Of course not. Research from psychologists has shown that this is actually evidence of how we’re inclined to be problem-focused in our approach to life.
Because of this inclination–which is greater in some than others–we have to be mindful to try to step back and also make sure we aren’t always just focused on all that is wrong. We also have to look at what is working for us.
Take for example…my soccer “career.”
Being right-footed, I had a less-than-average ability to dribble, pass and shoot with my left foot. By age 13, on a scale of 1-10, my left foot was a 3. My right foot on the other hand, generally speaking, was a 6 or 7 in ability.
I could have worked extremely hard to improve my left foot at that point. But doing so would have required thousands of hours. With time being a limiting factor, it was much more productive and effective (since I would have to work on also changing some learned habits) to work on getting my right foot even better–to a 8 or 9 in ability.
In the end, my focus was to gradually work so that my right foot was great, not just good. By having a right foot that was better than average, I was able to maneuver some of the situations that would have called for a “great” left foot. Over time, I was also able to get my left foot to a 4 or 5 compared with my peers, depending on if I was shooting or passing, that is.
Why not work on both feet? Sure, I could have worked on both feet, and if I had started on that process at age 6, of course that would be the right way to go. But it would have been a waste for me to put all my energy towards getting my left foot to be an 8 or 9–in fact, I believe it might have been nearly impossible for me.
Perhaps it’s a silly example, but the idea is that it may seem counterintuitive in business and in life to seek out what’s working for us, especially the more things are going wrong in a situation! What was working for me was my right foot: I was great at passing and just needed to continue to develop my dribbling and shooting skills. As a defender, I could get away with not being a great left or right footed striker. It was okay to have a consistently below average left foot (problem), if my right foot (my bright spot) could more than make up for it.
But what about as a manager? When your start-up’s business model is suddenly failing you, you don’t tend to think first about what is still working, or what assets you do have on your side–you’re more likely to try to look for big solution, or some big pivot, to come in and save your business!
For me, next time I’m honestly answering how my day was–even if it wasn’t great, I’m going to do my best to focus on the one or two things that were positives. It also seems like one way to feel more grateful about what I do have going for me.
What do you think you can apply focusing on the so-called “bright spots” to in your life–is it your health, career, or personal relationships?