One of the best investments I ever made for my business was “The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude” by Jeffery Gitomer. It’s a book I don’t consider a business book, but a life book, yet it has probably made the difference between my success and failure.
I bought the book on a whim in 2008. I had made a trip from Maine to North Carolina to explore housing options for an upcoming move and found myself in the local Barnes & Noble. I was waiting to see another potential condominium in the area and didn’t want to return to the hotel I was staying at so I grabbed a cup of coffee at the in-store Starbucks and grabbed the small, bright yellow book as I walked by a display. Sipping my iced latte, I opened the linen textured cover and there in large yellow print on black was this quote:
“You become what you think about all day long.” –Earl Nightingale
At that time, I was constantly thinking about my struggle to build my business. One of the reasons I was moving to North Carolina was the lower cost of living that would make it much easier to support myself on my business income alone. When I read that quote, a lightbulb went off in my head. If I constantly thought about how I was struggling, it would make sense that I would be constantly struggling. This was huge. And it was just the inside cover.
Needless to say, I spent the $20 and took the little gold book back to the hotel with me and pretty much devoured it over the next few days in between condo viewings.
One of the things that I feel sets this book apart from other ‘thoughts become things’ books is that it doesn’t just tell you to think positive and leave you to it. The author recognizes that we all may need a little help recognizing our negative thoughts, what produces them and a little help turning those negative thoughts around. One of the most useful things the book taught me in those early years was how to start making attitude changes. One section smack dab in the center of the book gives
“15.5 chunks of attitude awareness and actions to help put you (and keep you) on the positive path.”
When you’ve unknowingly become a negative Nancy, these things not only open your eyes to your self-defeating thoughts, but they give you something to do about them.
Of those 15.5 items, here are seven that I’ve personally found myself returning to over and over again to keep myself on the positive path.
- Admit it’s no one’s fault but yours. I was so guilty of wasting time trying to find someone or something to blame for the bad stuff that happened. It was amazing how freeing it was to just say “I screwed up.’ Or “I tried it, but it didn’t work” . It also saved a lot of time because I wasn’t looking around trying to find someone or something else to blame. I just took responsibility and moved on.
- Understand you always have a choice. I’d heard it a dozen times before, but something about this book really brought it home. It’s my choice whether I view something in a positive or a negative way. The thing is it’s so much easier to place blame than take responsibility.
- If you think it’s ok, it is. If you think it’s not ok, it’s not. If we whine and ask things like why things happen to us or complain about the day being crappy…the day will be crappy. On the other side of the coin, if we see a challenging day as a chance to learn and grow, a chance to prove there is good in everything, then it’s a great day. When you start deliberately choosing to view those challenging days in a positive way, they become great days, days that may just be a turning point of some kind because you chose to learn rather than complain.
- Invest your time, don’t spend it. I rarely watch the news and limit my time and what I react to on Facebook. Newscasts are full of negative news stories that can leave you wondering if there is anything good going on out there. Facebook, well, Facebook likes to feed you the stuff that gets the most reaction from you. In most cases that’s going to be stuff that caters to negativity. If you purposely choose to react and respond to more positive stuff, you’ll see your newsfeed change. I can always tell when I’ve let negativity creep in on Facebook because my newsfeed starts to be filled with negative stuff. It’s always a sign for me to focus on the positive and make my newsfeed a happy place again. The Facebook algorithm is a perfect example of how the way you invest your time has a direct impact on outcomes in your life. Invest your time in positive things and get a positive return.
- Say why you LIKE things and people, not why you don’t. This is a great habit to get into. It’s also a really hard one to cultivate. You have to make a real effort, especially at first, to stop yourself before putting out a negative comment, pause and then share something, anything, that you like rather than dislike. Turn that “The worst part of my job is…” into “I like that my job allows me to…” Your choices will rub off on other around you and pretty soon you’ll notice those coffee get-togethers are much more uplifting!
- Help someone less fortunate than you. When you make yourself aware of the plight of others, suddenly you become much more thankful for the smallness of your problems in comparison.
- Count your blessings every day. Rather than focus on what you don’t have, focus and be thankful for what you do. Make a list every day for things you are thankful for.
I believe the success of my business has everything to do with remaining positive even when the odds seemed to be stacked against me. Being positive makes it easier to make changes within my business when things aren’t working so well anymore, to branch out and try new things and to keep moving forward even if that means failing every once in a while. I’m not sure if I’d have ever learned how to turn my thoughts around if I hadn’t noticed the little golden book on a display table at Barnes and Noble. It was a $20 investment that has reaped huge rewards and happiness.