How To Avoid Stinking Thinking

If your perspective stinks, you’re going to sink.

You’ve heard the whining. You’ve heard people say, “Everybody else is getting ahead … Everybody else is happy … Everybody else is more popular … gets more respect … makes more money … looks better … or … has it better than I do.”

Well that’s stinking thinking. It’s not reality. Truth be known, everyone has problems and pain … lots of pain. It just so happens that some people hide it better than others. And so if you think you’re the only one with your kind of problems … you’re wrong. Your perspective stinks.

The trouble is … people tend to think their way of seeing something is the ONLY way to see it. Not so. There’s ALWAYS more than one way to see something, and the perspective you choose will make all the difference in your professional success or personal happiness.

Let me explain a few basic truths you need to adopt.

=> 1. There are SEVERAL perspectives for EVERY situation.

One man illustrated that very well. He asked God how long a million years was to Him. God replied, “A million years to me is just like a single second in your time.”

Then the young man asked God what a million dollars was to Him. God replied, “A million dollars to me is just like a single penny to you.”

Then the young man got his courage up and asked: “God, could I have one of your pennies?” God smiled and replied, “Certainly, just a second.”

On the serious side, you see different perspectives taken on the same job situation. Salesperson A constantly complains about the fact his company’s prices are too high; his brochures aren’t up to date; he doesn’t have the latest software on his computer; his territory is too small; there are too few good prospects, and his support staff is inadequate.

But salesperson B has the same set of challenges. Instead of whining about it, he concludes he’d better spend more time than ever making face-to-face contact with his prospects and customers. He knows the success of his sales will depend … to a large degree … upon the quality of the relationships he builds.

Given those two perspectives, guess who has the better track record in sales?

Or contrast two managers. Manager A focuses on all the red tape and outdated procedures in her organization. She’s always telling you why something can’t be done. But manager B knows it’s always easier to beg forgiveness than seek permission. So she just goes ahead and does what needs to be done … whenever possible.

Guess which manager gets more accomplished?

And if you would like the NUMBER ONE KEY to accomplishing more, then you need to have a powerful, victorious, positive attitude working for you. And getting such an attitude is entirely possible if you do a few simple things. In fact I outline the process in my book entitled “PIVOT: How One Turn In Attitude Can Lead To Success

But back to the Tuesday Tip. Point #1, you must remember there’s ALWAYS more than one way to see the same thing. So…

=> 2. Ask yourself, “How well is your perspective SERVING you?”

Does your perspective help you accomplish more? And feel better? If not, it’s time to change your perspective. After all, as Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, the father of positive thinking said, “Any fact facing us, however difficult, even seemingly hopeless, is not so important as our attitude toward the fact.”

Gail Berman, president of Paramount Pictures, said she learned that lesson from Dolly Parton years ago when they were filming “Steel Magnolias.” Parts of the film were shot on location in Natchitoches, LA, and the heat and the humidity lived up to the area’s reputation. Parton, however, seemed to deal with the discomfort better than most members of the crew. One of them commented to Parton, “Hey, some of the other people are cranky in the heat, but you’re always so nice and lovely.” Her reply was succinct: “Honey, I could be digging ditches in this heat.”

Dolly found a perspective that served her better than the one taken by all her griping team mates. What about you? Does your perspective give you lift and motivation? Or does it drag you down and hold you back? If your perspective is NOT serving you … or is NOT making your life better … then you need to change it.

You need to…

=> 3. Consciously CHOOSE a more positive perspective.

No matter what your situation, I would contend there’s always a way to look at it more positively. And please note … I am not advocating denial or unrealistic, irrational, Pollyannaish viewpoints. I’m simply saying there’s always a way to take a perspective that is both healthy and positive.

Michael Scott Karpovich talks about that. After speaking at an assembly at Meridian Middle School, he was asked to visit individual classrooms. One class was specifically designated for “learning disabled” children — where there was a prevailing attitude of pride.” Many of the students were wearing a cap or shirt with the Greek letters “Lambda Delta” printed on them. It was explained that this class was the “Lambda Deltas” because they were proudly “Learning Disabled!” They showed him photos of Tom Cruise and Whoopie Goldberg who were also proud “Lambda Deltas!” As Michael was also learning disabled, they presented him with a “Lambda Delta” shirt and inducted him into this proud fraternity.

The teacher of this classroom had effectively turned a basically negative label into something to be proud of. As Michael says, “This is how we all should treat our most painful situations — reinterpret the standard definition and give it an empowering meaning.”

He’s right. When you’re in a tough situation, when you’re tempted to give your situation a negative, demoralizing, self-defeating label, consciously choose to put a more positive label on the situation. Instead of saying you have an “impossible boss,” you could talk about the fact you’ve learned to get your positive feedback from other sources. Instead of talking about your financial struggle, talk about the creative ways you’ve learned to simplify your lifestyle.

At the very least, if you’re struggling in your efforts to get a more positive perspective, try to find the humor in your situation. Lighten up. Make a joke about it. Bob Hope was a master of that.

For example, Hope said, on turning 70, “You still chase women, but only downhill.” On turning 80, “That’s the time of your life when even your birthday suit needs pressing.” On turning 90, “You know you’re getting old when the candles cost more than the cake.” And on turning 100, “I don’t feel old. In fact I don’t feel anything until noon. Then it’s time for my nap.”

Action:  Take an inventory. Ask yourself how well your perspective is serving you. If you don’t like your answer, take on a new perspective.