Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure - Marianne Williamson
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about living with purpose in a destabilized economy and in uncertain times. Yesterday the market tanked again, and wherever you turn the news is not good.
In my own personal sphere, there have been ups and downs. Yesterday the first of my team who got laid off in MN worked his last day at my company. Although it was a sad day for me and for him, the amazing thing is that in this crazy time when people are fearful about keeping the jobs they have or fearful they are never going to find a job, he found a new job with a great opportunity for him with better pay. Instead of taking the severance package, he went out on an aggressive search and found a job that sounds like it will be the next step up for his career.
Is he just lucky? I don't think so....I remember a note he sent to me during his search where he wondered if he would be able to even find a job that would pay the same. I sent him back a note that I had no doubt he would find one and that I would support him in whatever way I could.
Enter the positive principle.
I used to believe that my biggest skill was contigency planning. I would spin what-if scenarios in my head nonstop all day long. If I lost my job, then I could do x, y and z. If my car breaks down right now, I can.......Do any of you do this? And, if bad things did happen, I was prepared and could jump into action. Recently, after reading a book called Appreciative Coaching which talked about the positive principle - the idea that "positive attitudes actions and connections influence long-term change (Orem, Binkert & Clancy, 2007, p. 14), I started to question the amount of time I was thinking about obstacles instead of opportunities. This is also the book that taught me to ask the question I asked you for the past two weeks, what would you do if your biggest obstacle disappeared overnight.
At first if was hard to let go of what I thought was a great survival skill I had learned a long time ago. That skill, I argued with myself, had garnered respect for me in several work situations over the years. Despite my resistance, I started "dabbling" in the positive principle. Instead of focusing on what I would do in the face of unforseen obstacles, I started to think about what I wanted to happen. To be clear I wasn't thinking about things. I was thinking about what I wanted my life to be, or to mean. I started to think again about my calling:
"A calling is about working with meaning, joy and a sense of contributing to the greater community. A calling means bringing spirit and livelihood back together again. A calling calls forth the deeper questions of work, such as how, why, and for whom we do our work" (The Power of Purpose, p.93).
Some of you may be saying that you can't think about finding a job that gives you joy while you are just trying to keep your job. What I am arguing is that if you start to focus on finding joy in your work instead of focusing on negative what ifs, you will keep your job, or even find a better one.
Is this some mumbo jumbo new-agey crap? All I can do is speak from experience. Since I started asking myself these questions I have seen the most positive seismic shifts in my life in 20 years. The thing I realized is that IF something bad happens, I already have the survival skills to take the steps necessary to survive, so I don't need to focus on what-if scenarios. Instead, I can shift that energy to thinking of what could be, what I want my life to be.
Even if you think all this is a little silly, or if you think that one of the biggest innovators in history, Henry Ford, said what he said above for giggles, what will you lose if you just try shifting that energy from negative thoughts and worries over the future, to positive thoughts about your present and what could be?
What if this week, you just try to find ways to create moments of joy in the work you are doing, or even try bringing joy to someone else admist all this uncertainty.
I'm not saying anything new, but try it out. I think you will be surprised. I know I have been. Even in the worst and scariest times, thinking the worst never gets you anywhere, but thinking about the possible can mean finding doorways and opportunities that would have remained hidden in the darkness of your own thoughts.
As always, please comment or email at email@example.com.
Freeing Sisyphus (aka Melody)
Putting the shoulder to the boulder and taking small steps each day to achieve freedom from the mundane.