If you’re one of more than 200 million North Americans affected by the extreme weather this winter, then you may have heard a lot of this type of thing over the past few months:
- “When is this terrible weather ever going to end? I am so sick of hibernating!”
- “I’m tired of being cold, and I’m fed up with shoveling snow!”
- “This endless stream of winter storms really has me down.”
Well, that’s one way to look at it. Here’s another way:
- “More snow coming tonight? Tomorrow, we should bundle up, take the dogs to the park, and enjoy the beautiful winter-wonderland scenery.”
- “I hear there’s more weather on the way. Good thing shoveling snow is so invigorating! It’ll help me work off some calories for that big roast we’ve planned for dinner.”
- “This endless stream of winter storms is really helping me appreciate cozy evenings by the fire with my family.”
What Gets You Down?
Regardless of the meteorological plight facing your corner of the world this winter—polar vortexes, ice storms, droughts, floods, you name it—it’s not the weather that’s getting you down.
It’s not even the media, although they’re certainly doing their best to frame each weather “disaster” in the most foreboding, dramatic light possible. Whatever your geography, they’ve got a negative angle to deliver. In fact, they’ve even started milking the ratings potential of weather “crises” predicted for this summer!
But you probably can’t control the media. And you definitely can’t control the weather. These are outside stimuli, and life is full of ‘em: the factors, facts, words, people, events, and actions that bombard you every day from the world beyond yourself.
Today, it’s snow or flooding or drought. Tomorrow, it’s a cranky boss, some bad news, or someone causing you pain. Each example is a stimulus that you don’t control—it’s something that happens to you.
What you do control, however, is your response to outside stimuli—and that response is a key factor in powerful leadership (as well as life).
Your Toggle Switch
When I approach this subject with clients, I often hear responses like this:
“You know, Bill, I think I’m just responding negatively because the situation is so bad. I’m not negative; I’m just a realist.”
Yes, there are hugely negative events (or stimuli) in life. As well as overwhelmingly positive stimuli. And of course, we will and should respond to such events in a manner appropriate to their nature.
But most of life is made up of events that are neither good nor bad—they simply are. However, we tend to make neutral events positive or negative based on the setting of our Perspective Button.
So most of the time, the realist claim is self-delusion. How do I know? Because if it were true, the inverse would hold as well—an Eeyore would respond positively to positive events. But it doesn’t work that way.
Attitude Follows Action
The presumption with the realist claim is that actions follow attitude. But the truth is precisely the reverse: attitude follows action.
So what’s the key to successfully resetting your Perspective Button? You got it. Action.
Don’t wait until you feel positive to start acting positively. Start acting positive now, and you’ll begin to feel positive.
It’s actually pretty simple.
Now, if you’ve been set on the negative end of the spectrum for some time, switching over to positive will probably take some real determination. But every time you make an intentional effort to respond to a situation in a positive manner, you take a step toward making this attitude ingrained.
So give it a try. And enjoy the snow.