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The Power of Positivity

By Scott McKain –  Dynamic Speaker on Innovation, Sales & Customer Service

Scott McKain, Dynamic Speaker on Innovation, Sales & Customer Service - The Sweeney Agency Speakers Bureau

If you’re like me, you often find yourself asking, “Where does the time go?” It was all the way back in 1994 that my awesome friend, Antonia Barnes Boyle, and I co-wrote my first book: Just Say — YES! A Step Up to Success.

Now a quarter of a century later (gulp!) with all the negativity spreading with the combined challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, social upheaval, and poisonous political rhetoric that are going on in our country, it’s not just easier to be negative — it seems to have become an instinctive reaction as fear and anger take over our public discourse.

The subtle differences

Fear’s first cousin is anger. Both are nephews of negativity.

Negativity — saying “no” to almost everything — is actually the denial of reality based on a wish for some altered circumstances.

For example, although I appreciated the intent of Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” to drugs, her slogan would have been better if it had been “Just Say Yes” to being drug free. The difference is subtle, but telling.

The subtlety lies in how saying “yes” implies a course of positive action—even in the face of negativity—or the “oh, no!” whine. The predictable expletive, “No!” can fill up our time and energy — simply because saying “no” is frequently a commitment to an unproductive struggle that reinforces helplessness and inertia.

Misfortune can have a positive side

And, you know, you can even say “yes” to misfortune. Think about that! Considering how we will positively respond to problems is the prerequisite to overcoming bad things that occur so we can break down our challenges and move forward.

Here’s a hypothetical example that can be applied to a team — or anyone wanting to differentiate themselves from the herd: Let’s say that your marketing budget has been slashed, but your senior management still expects a ten percent growth in net new customers during the next year.

  1. The “No” approach: You say, “How do they expect us to achieve a ten percent growth, when they have slashed our budget? It’s not fair!”
    1. Approach number 1 can lead to an unproductive – yes, whiny – group discussion. Hand-wringing gripe sessions abound where everyone agrees that you’ve received a raw deal — and, no, we shouldn’t have to deal with this!
      1. Would you agree that this approach is a total waste of time?
    2. The “Yes” approach: You say, “OK, team, here’s the situation. Considering the new budget constraints, what efficiencies in operation and innovative approaches could we take as a team to meet the growth goals — even though they’ll be challenging?”
      1. Approach number 2 recognizes that there is a big challenge here. The team needs to harness their creativity and be problem solvers instead of negative whiners.

Let’s consider the outcomes:

With the “no” approach, your team leader might be persuaded to go complain to senior management. The results could be that you are either (1) fired — or targeted for layoffs; or, (2) told to do it anyway.

In the latter case, what was accomplished by giving in to the negativity?

The “yes” approach, on the other hand, provides the team a jump-start in solving the problem. It tends to harness a crowd-sourced approach where the results typically exceed the sum of the constituent parts.

People thrive on challenges, and teams who say “yes” are usually the winners who never whine.


About Scott McKain

Scott McKain creates captivating presentations and bestselling books which clearly reveal how to create more compelling connections between you and your customers and how to stand out and move up, regardless of the economic climate in your industry. McKain’s calling is business – and his passion is platform presentations. He is a unique combination of vast speaking experience and new, cutting-edge information. His presentations benefit from three decades of experience, combined with his innate talent for articulating successful ideas. McKain has spoken before and consulted for the world’s most influential corporations. His keynote presentations help organizations conquer change and increase sales.

To Learn more about Scott McKain contact [email protected]

Derek Sweeney is the Director of Speaker Ideas at The Sweeney Agency. www.thesweeneyagency.com. For 15 years Derek has been helping clients find the right Speakers for their events. Derek can be reached at 1-866-727-7555 or [email protected]