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Is The Glass Half Full? - Part 2

Written by: Craig Twombly
Published: August 2012

Last month we discussed the Half Full or Half Empty approach we are all faced with in life. As we discussed last month, there are three evident categories in life that can defeat positive thinking. As we discussed last month we are faced daily with the challenge of being positive or being negative. We are influenced daily by challenges and sometimes it's near impossible to keep a positive tone. There are more than three, but we focused on the three big ones that are observed in everyday life. The three categories that we discussed last month were: Defeater, Personal and Crisis. You can revisit last month's article if you would like a little more information on the three categories. So what do we do, how do we change, and how much work will it take to maintain a Half Full approach.

As we begin to look at ways to shift the balance to a more positive Half Full approach, I reflect back into my life at those that have such an approach. Working in a business that constantly works on improving Organizational Culture and performance through leadership development offers many rewards. We are often brought into organizations to help the management and leadership teams achieve great success within their business acumen. I have the best job in the world and I am truly lucky to be given the opportunity to facilitate and coach such great people on a daily basis. When I entered into the business several years ago, I remember working with Ralph and visiting organizations we were currently working with and trying to gain a grasp for my new career. Over the next year I spent a great deal of time working side by side and truly learning the business model of Priority Learning. In the late summer we met with a senior leader of a company and we were asked to work with one of their mid-level managers to help him with performance issues they currently were faced with. The issues were not skills based, but they were behaviorally based and did not change even when sent to programs that may help make those changes. The shift for this manager would involve hard work on his part and success would come slow. As we settled into the drive back to the office Ralph asked what thoughts I had about a development strategy. Not sure where to start, he shared his thoughts and ideas as first steps. We discussed individual coaching, team development and so on. As I left the office I was rather confused because my view of the situation was negative and his was positive. The next day we discussed those differences and I was amazed as to what those were:

  • Be aware of your mental models...a mental model is the perception you have of someone or something. Wikipedia defines a Mental Model as: an explanation of someone's thought process about how something works in the real world. It is a representation of the surrounding world, the relationships between its various parts and a person's intuitive perception about their own acts and their consequences.

Every day we are faced with this challenge because it starts from the moment you wake up until the moment you go to bed. The mental models we create are based on our beliefs or thoughts. As we look back to the example above, Ralph refused to have a mental model regarding this manager. By not having a mental model, he viewed the situation as a great step and the manager had tons of potential to grow. By maintaining our mental models, we do not put barriers in front of people and allow them to succeed or in some cases fail.

  • Recognize the thoughts and is useful to be aware that we all have mental models but it is true success to recognize them before they happen. Recently I had the opportunity to start a yearlong project with a client and as I began the set-up to the first session with the management group, I was asked by a senior level leader if I would like to discuss who was in each group. I respectfully declined and discussed how based on their thoughts I would begin to formulate a mental model and potentially act accordingly. My job is to find the potential in everyone not why they might fail.
  • Take time to we all know change is slow, it takes time and a considerable amount of energy to change. If you return to work tomorrow stating that all is good, mental models will not affect you and the nay-sayers will not get you to think it is all half empty, the chances are you will probably get a few raised eyebrows. It takes time and on occasion you will find yourself getting into the whole group think and viewing the situation or project as impossible. So take time and dig in slowly and start to recognize and change the thoughts as they happen.
  • Replace the negative I look back towards the conversation Ralph and I had, it would have been beneficial to stop the negative thoughts I had. Although it would have been beneficial, I still needed to replace the negative thoughts with more positive ones. We are not talking about being unrealistic. We are discussing finding good and potential in others. Ralph shared with me what could be done and what success could look like for this manager. Ralph listened and said all we can do is believe in the person...if he fails, it will not be from a lack of effort or belief on our part. If he fails it will be because he choses to fail and not because we thought he would. Ralph was looking at his potential.
  • Change all facets of your life...we often hear people say work life is different than personal life. Yes, work and personal times are different, yet they play off from each other. By focusing on both areas of your life the facets will feed off from each other and change the whole.

We shouldn't blindly go through life thinking everything will be okay. When we watch the nightly news, we are all well aware that everything is not okay, but by choosing to look at the potential and good around us, that could only inspire more positive behaviors.

Thank you for taking the time to read and as always your thoughts are welcome.

Craig Twombly

Craig Twombly

Craig is the primary facilitator at Priority Learning, he is responsible for conducting an array of leadership series offered and consulting assignments from communications to team development in organizations ranging from the service industries to finance, manufacturing and more. Having extensive experience at balancing the business needs with the wants and desires of people are Craig's strongest assets.