By Tim Hayes [www.timhayesconsulting.com]
At a large company where I toiled decades ago, some wise guy (not me, for once) had a big sign in his cubicle that read: “The difficult we do immediately, the impossible may take a little longer.”
That message came to mind one afternoon back then, as I stood in the Corporate Communications Director’s office along with my immediate boss. What we had considered a ludicrous demand had come down from the executive floor, and we were pleading our case before the department head to push back with the boys upstairs to give us some wiggle room.
There wasn’t enough time, we said. We don’t have the right people on staff to do this in such short order, we said. It doesn’t make good strategic communications sense, we said.
On and on the moaning went, until finally the department head – his face becoming redder and redder – stood up and laid the wood to us, but good. He said, his anger barely controlled, “All you guys are telling me is how this thing cannot be done. I had better start hearing ways it can be done. Tell me how it CAN be done, because it is GOING to get done!”
And, like someone turning on the lights in a darkened room, my thought process changed – and has remained so ever since. It is so easy to be negative. Some people surmise that’s how human beings are hardwired in the first place. You don’t have to work at problems when you assume they can’t be solved anyway. You don’t have to think about overcoming obstacles when you’re more worried about obsessing over them.
But ever since that day, I’ve come to accept – because I’ve experienced it first hand time and time again – that positive thinking truly does lead to positive outcomes. This is hardly a new concept, of course. Read the Bible, peruse “The Power of Positive Thinking,” watch televangelists like Joel Osteen – they all say the same thing. You can even sit at the feet of wizened old philosophers like Arnold Schwarzenegger, who credits visualizing his future with making it come true. From his bodybuilding days to his movie career and even to the Governor’s Mansion in Sacramento, Arnold has said he saw it all in his mind years before it happened, and that vision is what helped make it happen.
Then there are my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers. In a week, they will be playing for a record seventh Super Bowl victory. But who would have ever dreamed that they would be in this position last spring, when their franchise quarterback found himself embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal? Or when the league suspended him from the first four regular season games? Or when their best offensive lineman suffered a season-ending injury? Or when they had to start a rookie at center? Or when they got embarrassed by the Patriots during the regular season? Or when they were three touchdowns behind at halftime during the first playoff game? Or at a hundred other moments when things looked pretty bleak?
Who would have dreamed of a Super Bowl berth during all that? The Steelers themselves, that’s who.
Head Coach Mike Tomlin insists that expectations never go down, no matter who’s injured, no matter what the score is, no matter what the media say, no matter what. That hard-nosed foundation has led to another amazing season that – 60 minutes of football from now – can launch this group of Steelers into history.
Tell me how it CAN be done – Go Steelers! And “Go Anybody!” in the business world who believes in choosing the positive over the negative.
Copyright 2011 Transverse Park Productions LLC