Today is the first day of Spring (I always thought it was the 21st March) which heralds a warming of temperatures promoting new growth and fresh starts. It should be cause for celebration but the radio and the papers this morning are full of the same news (bad) about the banks (evil), the politicians (corrupt) and the economy (doomed).
We are hard wired to respond to bad news, it’s the survival instinct to be on the watch for things that might get us. It is why our ears prick up at work at the first signs of change. It is our primal instincts that cause us to evaluate newcomers to the office in terms of enemies or allies. It is why when news is cascaded down from the top in an organisation there is a huge temptation for people to ‘look for the negative’ and it often only takes a tiny bit of ‘evidence’ to create a belief that something is seriously wrong. Human nature, being what it is, then sets up this ripple of chinese whispers and people invariably pass on the warning to others, ‘just in case’ and although it is often with good intentions some people (yes you can normally spot them) fall into the trap of having to outdo each others tales of woe with just how terrible things are, a kind of doom-mongering one-upmanship.
So what can you do? It is tough to be consistently upbeat but set yourself a personal challenge to look for the good stuff, the fresh shoots, the glimpse of sunshine, lambs and daffodils etc. When you read the paper identify the stories which contain uplifting messages or positive news and most important of all tune into the good stuff at work, look at what is going well and share it. Two things will happen… one you start to feel more upbeat and less stressed and secondly you will notice that, to begin with, those around you try to drag you back down. People have a habitual way of relating to one another and when this changes it creates confusion. Resist the desire to win them over immediately or justifying your position, sometimes a smile works wonders. As long as you maintain your positive outlook you don’t have to change everyone else straight away.
Ask anyone who has led a significant change project, the processes and procures, project and planning are the easy bit… it’s the people who get in the way. The secret to changing anything is commitment and consistency. Be positive for a day, then three days, a week, a month and you will experience a significant difference in yourself and those around you. Retain your objectivity, this isn’t about smiling and hoping for the best. It takes some hard work and persistence but the rewards do pay off.