Actively seek out the good stuff

Hunt the good stuff

As a coach I work with many hard working, often ambitious people who want to be clear about what they want and how they’re going to get there. In a competitive world, entrepreneurs, leaders, heads of business know they must keep on going, persevere, never give up if they are to succeed.  When working over long periods in this way, it’s easy to get ‘stuck’ in a pattern of keeping their head down, focusing on the targets and being extra aware of obstacles or challenges that might get in the way of success.

This can be exhausting and create a mindset where they only notice the negatives in every situation.  What might go wrong? What if it doesn’t work? It could be better.  This treadmill of negatives, in turn has a negative effect on our state of mind.  Everything feels stressful, everything looks bleak.  Everything they do, no matter how good, will never be good enough.  It’s as if there’s an invisible whip that just keeps on pushing them forward, punishing them if they get anything wrong.  Often, this way of thinking also affects those around them, as they pick up on negatives and mistakes, rarely noticing things that have been done well or that should be celebrated. This mentality often spreads into their private life.

This is not a great way to live and work.

Hunt the good stuff

As a coach, I challenge clients on this negative treadmill to step off a moment and recalibrate.  It’s natural for humans to notice and remember negatives – we seem to be pre-programmed to do so (read about negativity bias here).

As soon as we become aware of our tendency, we can start to do something about it.  Making an effort to “Hunt the good stuff” (Martin Seligman writes about this in his book ‘Flourish’), can lift the mood and lighten the weight.  With practise (change is rarely easy), we can train our minds to actively search for positive aspects in situations.  This doesn’t mean we stop being dedicated to our project or business, it doesn’t mean we ‘take our eye off the ball’, or that we become naive or unaware of challenges, but it does mean we will find more pleasure in our work and life, as well as be easier to live and work with.

Simply put:

To begin with, it’s important to notice the tendency for seeing the bad stuff. Just notice these thoughts and let them go.

Every morning when you wake up or as you brush your teeth, and as you go to sleep in the evening, make an effort to think of 2 or 3 good things that will happen / have happened.  No matter how small, they are important.

Getting into this routine, will hopefully mean you start thinking of good stuff during the day. It might help to encourage others to do this, so that the “hunting the good stuff” idea spreads.

Start small and as you get the hang of it, let the good stuff take over. Clients find it transforms their thinking and makes everything a little more enjoyable.

Coaching case studies: Entrepreneur loses confidence on buyout

Entrepreneur loses confidence as business is bought

Steve has enormous entrepreneurial talent and grew his first business quickly and successfully. His company was approached by a larger business who wanted to buy, and wanted him to stay on to run that part of the business.  As an entrepreneur, this was a whole different ball game.  Used to putting plans in action quickly, he found the structure of the larger firm stymied his creativity and he became frustrated.  He believed that he would be sidelined and would lose control.  He was aware that his way of communicating didn’t fit in with the new, larger organisation’s expectations. He contacted me and explained that he wanted to become regional managing director and not find his way out of a job, as he feared might happen.

The group CEO said that his people skills were lacking.  Steve is a strong analyst and quite an introvert, gaining people’s trust through delivering what he promises. He was given feedback from his senior management that he didn’t perform as they’d like in meetings and wasn’t an inspirational leader.  This all meant that Steve started to question his own ability and whether he had “lost his touch”. He became quiet and withdrawn in meetings as a result, feeling all eyes were on him, expecting him to be outgoing and charismatic, character traits that simply didn’t sit well with him.

During coaching, we discussed whether leaders had to be charismatic, extrovert performers to gain their team’s trust. If this was the case, then Steve felt he could not be authentic, could not be himself and would have to leave. As an entrepreneur, he realised he had many strengths that perhaps others lacked, and he decided to focus on these. He soon realised that there are many ways of leading and gaining trust, and that an introvert who communicated confidently but without the great performance, can also win over others.

It became clear that confidence is not necessarily being able to perform like an Oscar winning actor, but that it’s something that comes from within, a belief that what you stand for is genuine and valid, and that you will provide clarity and strategy quietly and calmly.

This took a little practise as his confidence has been knocked, but each time he used the techniques we discussed in our sessions, he took another step forward.  Even though the business has gone through some difficult times for various reasons, he has won his team over and is seeing his strategy play out as he wanted it to. He was made Managing Director and feels he has the influence he wants on how his business is shaped. He is confident that he has the right skills and self awareness now to manage his staff and communicate successfully with the board. The insights he has developed over the coaching sessions mean that he can gain a different perspective on why people do things, which enables him to feel less stressed and clearer about what he wants for the business.

Steve began with weekly coaching sessions two years ago, and now returns periodically when he has a big meeting or issue to resolve.

Any names or details that might identify clients are changed.

The Entrepreneur Myth

Are all small business owners entrepreneurs?

The E-Myth by Michael E Gerber, is not a new book. But it still has great relevance.  The basic message is that setting up a business is not so straightforward and success is not automatic just because you’re good at a trade. Read more