While at breakfast in a hotel last week, I overheard a conversation from another table. I had not much choice; the breakfast room was relatively empty, and they were quite vocal. It was clearly a group of colleagues, and they were sharing their frustration. The conversation was entirely focussed on what did not work and why it would never work anyhow. It was about who did what wrong and why that person should not be part of the company. Lots of difficulties, impossibilities, and complaints, a conversation fully loaded with negative energy.

Later in the day, while driving back home, I listened to a podcast that presented an entirely opposite mindset. The guest in this episode explained that he tends to look for an opportunity behind every setback. Whenever he faces something unexpected that could be explained as negative, he asks himself the question “what opportunity does this offer me?”.

I liked his approach of actively giving a negative occurrence a positive turn by asking this question. I tend to see possibilities everywhere, and that’s how we tried to raise our children as well. They will remember the phrase “think in possibilities” pretty well. In general, positive minded people tend to be happier, healthier and more successful.

That said, I realize that for some it is easier said than done. We can easily agree that it is better to think positive, we can even agree that you will take action to do so. However, the pessimist in you might be skeptical and your thinking could start with something like “yeah but …” or “let me explain why that will not work for me”.

There is a difference in agreeing that you will be taking action and doing so. That’s what the hardest part is. Changing behaviors take time and ask for humility, courage, and discipline. Changing your behaviors on your own is difficult. Find someone who can be your accountability partner, a coach or a co-worker, to keep you sharp and works with you to change your behavior.

Also, there are some simple reminders or triggers that you can use to remind yourself to conduct a positive mindset. For instance, place a small card on your desk that helps to remind you of a positive approach. What should be on the card? Any reminder that helps you to think positively! It can be as simple as a drawn smiley or something like the question mentioned before: “what opportunity does this offer me?”.

Imagine how different the day of that team at breakfast last week would have started if they identified the obstacles and jointly would have worked on the question “what opportunity does that offer us?”. They could have shared fun stories at breakfast and save the work opportunities for the office. A positive mindset is not only a joy forever, but it will also save time; the precious time you can use for other fun things!


Read more about setting reminders in Marshall Goldsmith’s book “Triggers” *