3 Tips for Overcoming Negative Thinking in the Workplace

By Stacy Sacco | July 25, 2012

Having spoken with hundreds of successful small business owners and read most of the more popular motivational speakers’ books and audio-tapes (i.e., Les Brown, Jack Canfield, Steven Covey, Wayne Dyer, Mark Victor Hansen, Norman Vincent Peale, Jim Rohn, Dennis Waitley, Zig Ziglar and several others), I’ve identified three ideas they all seem to share in common regarding overcoming negative thinking.

1. Don’t Let Other People Deter You

We all have people in our lives, who for any number of reasons (i.e., jealousy, fear, ignorance, etc.) try to sabotage your success by telling you your ideas won’t work. However, history is replete with great inventors who had to overcome others’ negative thinking before their ideas were accepted. Here are a few quotes that may surprise you:

“This telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.”
– Western Union internal memo, 1876

“Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.”
– Lord Kelvin, President, Royal Society, 1895

“Who wants to hear actors talk?”
– Harry Warner, Warner Brothers Pictures, 1927

“We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”
– Decca Recording Company rejecting the Beatles, 1962

“So we went to Atari and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got this amazing thing, even built it with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we’ll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary; we’ll come work for you.’ And they said, ‘No.’”
– Steve Jobs commenting on his attempt to get Atari interested in his and Steve Wozniak’s personal computer

In response to his nay-sayers, Henry Ford once said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” So, no matter their reason (whether they have good intentions or not), base your decisions and actions on your own objective data and your faith in yourself, and don’t let others deter you from achieving your goals. Believe in yourself and your dream.

2. Don’t Make Excuses

Just as it’s easy to let others get in your way of you reaching your goals, be careful to not sabotage yourself by making excuses for not taking action. The world is full of excuses, but here are a few responses you may want to adopt to keep moving forward:

Excuse: “It won’t work.”
Your Response: “It’s never been done before, so how do you know that? Let’s test it!”

Excuse: “It will cost too much money.”
Your Response: “How do you know that until we’ve collect more information? Let’s run the

Excuse: “Let’s think about it some more.“
Your Response: “The longer we wait, we may be missing an opportunity…and don’t forget,’Time is Money!'”

3. Think of Challenges as Opportunities

Successful entrepreneurs see challenges as opportunities to solve problems and create value, and ultimately to turn their solutions into revenues and profits.

I vividly remember a personal experience that solidified this kind of thinking for me. In 1985, I met a young 20-year-old entrepreneur at a technology business conference that I was helping coordinate in Orange County, California. After the conference ended, I found him in the parking lot trying to start his rental car. He was a bit panicked about getting to the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to make a flight home to Austin, TX. I volunteered to drive him the 40+ miles up 405 freeway, and we had the most interesting conversation along the way.

The young man told me about his ideas to solve a problem people were having at the time when purchasing a personal computer. As he explained, “Everyone has specific needs and tends to over-purchase a computer. They really don’t need most of what companies are offering off the shelf.” He wanted to offer custom built units. He also wanted to simplify their purchase by selling them on this new “e-commerce thing” (which we now know of as the Internet).

I thought he was crazy. Who would ever want to buy a computer, or anything for that matter, without seeing it in person first? He assured me that his solution would add value and there was money to be made helping people overcome the challenges of purchasing a machine that met their individual needs. Much to my chagrin, my passenger was none other than Michael Dell, who launched Dell Computers a year later!

So, whenever you encounter someone who has a problem or a challenge, think solutions, and how you can make it better and make money along the way. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “A kite rises against the wind, not with it”.

About the Author

Stacy Sacco

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