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Jon Gordon

The Power of Positive Leadership


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Why leaders need to be positive thinkers


It takes a lot of work to create a world-class organization. It’s hard to develop a successful team. It’s not easy to build a great culture. It’s challenging to work toward a vision and create a positive future. It’s difficult to change the world.

As a leader, you will face all kinds of challenges, adversity, negativity, and tests. There will be times when it seems as if everything in the world is conspiring against you. There will be moments you’ll want to give up.

There will be days when your vision seems more like a fantasy than a reality. That’s why positive leadership is so essential.

When some people hear the term positive leadership they roll their eyes because they think I’m talking about Pollyanna positivity, where life is full of unicorns and rainbows. But the truth is that we are not positive because life is easy. We are positive because life can be hard.

Positive leadership is not about fake positivity. It is the real stuff that makes great leaders great. Pessimists don’t change the world. Critics write words but they don’t write the future.

Naysayers talk about problems but they don’t solve them. Throughout history we see that it’s the optimists, the believers, the dreamers, the doers, and the positive leaders who change the world.

The future belongs to those who believe in it and have the belief, resilience, positivity, and optimism to overcome all the challenges in order to create it.

If you want to get control of your negative thoughts and stop the spiral into fear and pessimism, it’s simpler than you think and it’s a valuable skill for any leader to know.

1) First, be aware of your thoughts.

Observe your thoughts, keeping in mind that complaints, self-doubt, fear, and negativity lead to unhappiness, failure, and unfulfilled goals over time. When you notice these thoughts, it’s high time for an intervention.

2) Talk yourself through the fear.

Understand that fear is a liar. If you believe the fear-based thoughts you think (I’m not good enough, I’m not smart enough, the world is falling apart, etc.), everything around you will validate what you believe to the point where you eventually start to believe it.

But know this: Just because you have a negative thought doesn’t mean you have to believe it. Don’t believe the lie.

3) Speak truth to the lies.

Instead of listening to the negative lies, choose to feed yourself with the positive truth.

Speak truth to the lies and fuel up with words, thoughts, phrases, and beliefs that give you the strength and power to overcome challenges and create an extraordinary life, career, and team. The truth is that no matter what is happening around you and regardless of what negative thoughts pop into your head, you possess the capability and power to take positive action.

4) Try feeling grateful instead of stressed. 

Research shows we can’t be stressed and thankful at the same time. If you feel blessed, you won’t be stressed.

5) Talk to yourself instead of listening to yourself.

Dr. James Gills is the only person to complete six Double Ironman triathlons, and the last time he did it he was 59 years old.

When asked how he did it, he said, “I’ve learned to talk to myself instead of listen to myself. If I listen to myself, I hear all the doubts, fears, and complaints of why I can’t finish the race. If I talk to myself, I can feed myself with the words I need to keep moving forward.”

6) Start a success journal.

At the end of the day, instead of thinking of all the things that went wrong, write down the best thing that happened to you that day—the one thing that made you feel great.

This is a great exercise to do with children as well. When you look for the good and focus on it, you will start seeing more of it. And you’ll teach your children to view their life this way, too.

Positive leaders invest their time and energy in driving a positive culture. They create a shared vision for the road ahead. They lead with optimism and belief and address and transform the negativity that too often sabotages teams and organizations. 

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Jon Gordon


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