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Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Power of Positive Thinking

“The positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.” (Author Unknown)

If there ever was I time that positive thinking and positive actions were needed, it is now. I know that we are being bombarded with negative news on the economy, unemployment, and hundreds of other issues that justify our having a negative outlook. But being negative and thinking negative will not produce successful outcomes.

Adversity makes us stronger. It builds character. And hopefully, it will cause us to work harder and work smarter given the challenges facing us. Ideally times of limited resources cause people and organizations to work more collaboratively and to partner on joint solutions to complex issues. We are definitely in times of limited resources. And working together has never been more important.

Just thinking positively instantly changes our attitude and the way in which we see the world. While negative thoughts drain our energy and reduce our creativity, positive thinking increases our energy level and our creativity. In the toughest of times or when we face the most complex issues, we need every ounce of energy and creativity available to us.

Those of you that have read my columns in the past know that I am a big fan of Dr. Stephen Covey who wrote the book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Dr. Covey touches on positive thinking in the discussion on proactive and reactive behaviors. He challenges the reader to listen to the language in a conversation. If the language is negative the behavior will be reactive in most cases. If the language is positive, the action will be proactive.

He further challenges students of his famous work to focus on that which one can control and to minimize the focus of that which one cannot control. The areas of our lives that we can control reside in our personal circle of influence. Those areas we cannot control should reside in our circle of concern.

For instance, I can control much in the area of my health. I can eat better and have a better diet, I can exercise regularly, and I can see my doctor regularly for a physical. The dimension of my health that I can control would be in my circle of influence.

I cannot control the stock market. If I am near retirement and my retirement income is in a 401k account, I should be concerned with the market and the value of my portfolio. A bad day on the stock market can ruin my attitude only if I choose to let it. My health can deteriorate if I ignore not to do those things I can control. My 401k or stock portfolio should be in my circle of concern (at least in the short-term).

Obviously we are in difficult times. And it looks like the challenges facing us individually and corporately are not going to magically improve overnight. But we can choose to focus on those things we can control and positively work toward collaboration and partnership. Even when we disagree, it would be more beneficial in the long-run to do so agreeably.

Before I get accused of saying do as I say and not as I do, I know that I can be just as negative as the next guy. My column last week was received by some that I was taking a position on the upcoming SPLOST votes, when I thought I was simply challenging all of us to get engaged and to become educated on the choices facing us. In hindsight, I agree my column was biased to a degree.

So this week, my message on the power of positive thinking is for me first and you the reader second. In my role (which I am grateful for each and every day) I see community issues up close and personal. I cannot be effective working with community leaders if my thinking and attitude are negative. And if most of us are having negative thoughts and negative attitudes more often than not, our community will suffer.

We have many positive initiatives underway in our community and potential for many more. The leaders of our community and each of us as citizens have to do our part to bring about positive community change. Washington will not do it for us nor will Atlanta … but we have the capacity to win if we so choose.

May God bless our great nation and our wonderful community!

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