Positive or negative? Half full or half empty? Good or bad? Peace or conflict? Many of you are optimists and look for the positive things in life. You see the glass as half full and avoid conflict when possible. The rest of you tend to see the negative in your surroundings. For you, the glass in half empty. You don’t see yourself as a pessimist, heaven forbid. You see yourself as a realistic. Know what I mean?
Based on the way you’re wired, some of you clearly belief that there is one correct way (your way!) to view the world in which you live. For you, the world tends to be black and white. For others, your world is gray (or a kaleidoscope of colors), but definitely NOT black and white.
I’m not going to pick a side this week, I’m going to play the “BOTH AND” card. I’m going to say that the best outlook, perspective, or view is one of balance. In this approach the world is black and white and gray and colorful. The choices are not limited. They are limitless.
Will you allow me to unpack this a bit? What I’ve observed in multiple organizational settings around the globe from family to church to corporate organization to sports teams to community groups is that many of you (including me) don’t like to face conflict or big, messy challenges. I know some of you do. If you’re one of those people, you can stop reading now and I’ll give you back 2 minutes.
But for the rest, you have to Face It. You have to recognize that there are conflicts that need to be brought into the open and resolved. There are some places you can’t go until you face, and conquer, a messy situation.
I’m reminded that St. Paul exhorted us to think and meditate upon noble things, good things, and honorable things. But I also know there are some dark, difficult and messy things that need to be addressed if you’re to reach the finish line. Sticking with my scriptural example, take a look at the life of Jesus. Though his life was full of encouraging others, he did not run from the death upon the cross. He recognized it was necessary to achieve his purpose.
And I daresay that if you look at any of the great leaders throughout history, you’ll find that there were times when they had to Face It. They had to look the difficult, ugly, messy situation in the eye and deal with it. They had to address it. They had to fix it. They had to confront it. They had to Face It.
Yes, when possible, focus on the good in life, the good in others and the good in yourself. Meditate on positive things. Encourage others. Appreciate fine art. Listen to great music. Eat outstanding food. Spend time in majestic, natural settings. Find the good things in others and reinforce them. Help others find their strengths. See the wonder in the world around you, from the tiny ant to the amazing aircraft in which we travel.
But, and it’s a big BUT, don’t gloss over, ignore, or run from conflict or the messy situation you fear. To reach your goal, to be the best, to truly maximize your potential and provide the greatest value to those around you (family and neighbors), you must from time to time Face It.
Once I interviewed a candidate for a leadership position who told me that he always focused on the positive things that others said in a group setting and wouldn’t allow any negative comments for fear it would negatively impact the larger group. He struggled to understand that though there are times when you need to restrict the whining there are yet other times when you must embrace and welcome all feedback, good and bad. He struggled to understand that there are times when in order to optimize performance, and breakthrough to the next level, you have to understand and address the conflict and win over the naysayers. It’s not always fun or pleasant to Face It, but there are times when it’s absolutely necessary.
There are times when the sky is sunny and clear. And there are times when storm clouds darken the sky. The world-class leader understands when to encourage and focus on the positive and when to see the storm clouds and Face It.
In sum, this week’s principle is: look for and reinforce the positive when possible, but don’t avoid conflict when it’s on the critical path to improvement or goal achievement.
How about you? What’s your story? How are you wired? Are you willing to Face It when needed?
As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.
Dr. Robert Gerwig is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]LeadStrategic.com.
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