Focusing on “wrongness” results in one of two major outcomes: The first is that you get more and more wrongness piling up rather inexplicably. The second is that you succeed in fixing that which is wrong and thus make it right. Simple. But why is it that when we focus on what is wrong we sometimes (or all the time) wind up with more and more wrong?
Let’s take the example of a 3-year-old: He is learning wrong and right. He’s learning that you are not supposed to throw dishes or knock over glasses of milk or pull the cat’s tail and that type of thing. He’s probably doing his best, but his parents have a tendency to keep reminding him – over and over again – of what he’s doing wrong. And sometimes he does those wrong things on purpose, much to the dismay and frustration of the adults in the home. But why did this happen? There was too much importance placed on what was wrong.
With kids, very often you don’t even have to mention what is wrong. Just direct their attention to something right and the wrong will drop away. The child is banging on the table with a frying pan? Give them a pillow to bang on. He’s about to draw on the wall? Tell him how much you’d like a picture drawn on a piece of paper. It’s just a matter of re-focusing attention on something positive, i.e. something right.
The Importance of Attitude
So how does this translate to the adult world of business? In business, many people tend to naturally focus on what went wrong, what is going wrong, and what will go wrong. This is not even a bad inclination because it means you’re seeking to learn from your mistakes and create prosperity. But if you are fixated upon everything that could possibly go wrong, you’re missing the mark and you’re making a mistake. You can end up further cementing what is wrong by granting it seniority over what is right.
Ever been stranded on the side of the road? No matter what you try you can’t get the vehicle started. Then someone happens along who knows one or two things about cars and he tweaks this or that, really simple stuff, and presto! Car starts! He wasn’t all caught up in what was wrong. He just thought it ought to start and made it start. It is a difference in attitude. Attitude may not be everything but it accounts for a lot.
Vision & Certainty
In business, you should have a clear-cut vision, a destination, a goal worth your efforts. You should then have a short-range plan, a medium-range plan, and a long-range plan. If your plan and its execution are swift and accurate, you have increased certainty that you’ll achieve the desired result. And in the reverse, if your certainty level is high to begin with, your plan and its execution end up being swift and accurate. Certainty is important. Ever bought something from someone just because they were so monumentally certain you needed it? Maybe you didn’t need it, but you bought it anyway because the other fellow was so certain. There are ways to build certainty and confidence.
When you have confidence that something will work, you don’t get too worried about it, despite how other people feel. I am sure you can think of a few things you are very good at. Do you worry about the outcome? Probably not, because you know you can produce the desired result. A master chef knows how to produce a five-star meal and isn’t hung up on it. A veteran mechanic can fix a car and knows it will start and run well after he’s done with it. There is no substitute for knowing your business. Knowing what you’re doing requires study and practice. So if you are worried about the outcome, take a look and see if you need to brush up your skills. There’s nothing wrong with admitting you don’t know everything, and there is nothing wrong with knowing when you know something.
Know When You’re Done
If you think that something requires extra work and attention, by all means tackle it, burn the midnight oil if you need to. Real success requires hard work. It requires honesty. It requires sticking to your guns while having a keen ear and open eyes. People who work hard can have a tendency to get stuck on whatever it is they’re working on. It is difficult to pry them away. So if you find yourself in that situation, when you are done with something, recognize it’s done and walk away. Take a walk. Take your well-deserved day off. You can always inspect it again later if you want to, but know when to move on.
Making People Right
Employees are certainly not children, but I’m going to refer back to the analogy of the 3-year-old again. People of any age tend to not like it when you constantly bring to their attention everything that’s wrong. It is however necessary to point these things out in order to correct them. But as soon as you recognize what is right, please do not hesitate to point that out as well. As you bring attention to what is right, you may see something miraculous occur. You may see the wrong things drop away and the right things become more prominent and more abundant. By focusing on what is right, you are creating more and more RIGHT. Try it out and see what happens.
Still worried about the future? Then rekindle your sense of adventure. You’ve got to be willing to fail. You’ve got to be willing to be knocked down and just as willing to get right back up again. Your sense of adventure is your sense of fun, your sense of endless possibilities, your sense of “let’s see what happens” and your sense of “the future is an infinite playing field.” Perhaps this was burning ever so brightly when you started out, but the setbacks and failures piled up and it is now no more than a smoldering cinder. That is why I said “REKINDLE”, which means “get the fire burning again!” Exactly how you do that is unique to you and your team. Schedule a meeting, or take everyone out and go over it, get the dialogue going. Communication is a good first step – communication which leads to action. Once a few things start going right, with a sigh of relief you may look back and wonder what all the worry was about. Good luck! Over to you!