Fact: Being “positive” and being forward focused are two different things. Yet, it’s alarming: when someone receives bad news, others will often attempt to assist those in need by encouraging them to “be positive.”
Depending on the state of mind of the person in need, those around him might be cautious; such a coaching approach is likely to backfire – and make matters worse. Why? Because there’s not a lot that is positive about firing people, cutting budgets, and missing your child’s ball game because you have to meet with a customer.
Most certainly, those who extend the “be positive” proclamation should not be blamed; they are attempting to help. And, consider that you can increase the awareness of such well-intended colleagues by assuring others understand how “being positive” falls short of living and leading in a forward focused manner.
By definition, being positive includes hope, and it has the essence of rhetoric. Forward focus is biased toward action, and has the essence of discipline – which results in greater hope for tomorrow. being positive means being nice; alternatively, forward focus has three important components. It means that in interactions you work to develop:
– the person,
– the relationship,
– and results.
Of course, in some interactions you may only achieve one of the three elements above. But any approach that doesn’t consistently strive to accomplish all three can’t be sustained – and is disastrous long term.
Three components of being forward focused can have a positive effect. It can feel good. But, unlike “the positive approach,” the forward focus approach can also be utilized during “negative” times. In such moments, people don’t necessarily feel good, but they know what must be done to build people, relationships and results long term.
And that’s a good thing.