Think of all of the people with whom you work or interact on a regular basis. Have you ever met Mr. Negative, The Critic or The Victim? I bet you’re picturing one of these folks right now. I know I am. You’ll find them everywhere, in meetings torpedoing the most innovative ideas or holding court around the office water cooler. Hope you will never see one in the mirror.
In my book Rule #1 Don’t Be #2, I discuss the importance of doing everything you can to avoid negative people. Pessimists spread negativity like the flu, and you must limit exposure. The risk in listening to naysayers is that your own thoughts might begin to echo what they’re saying. They have the power to adversely affect not only your outlook, but your company’s culture, reputation and bottom line.
Let’s take a closer look so you’ll be able to sidestep them whenever possible.
Mr. Negative seems to have a problem for every solution and loves to drain enthusiasm from any new idea. His mantra is the deadly “This is the way it’s always been done.” He’s mired in the status quo like a car stuck in mud, spinning his wheels. When a window of opportunity opens, he’ll pull down the shade. He will zap your energy and slow your momentum. You won’t want to add this person to your team or spend time socializing with them. You can’t expect to lead a positive life if you surround yourself with negative people.
Critics are known for finding something derogatory to say about everyone, and they are especially famous for trading confidential or negative information about others. Critics use gossip to bond with and control small-minded people. Make sure you’re never tempted to engage in their shenanigans, for everyone is fair game, including you. Critics are threatened by talented go-getters, and the greater the talent, the louder the criticism, which they hope will draw the spotlight away from their own unimpressive résumés. Never let anyone who has done nothing tell you how to do anything.
Never able to accept personal responsibility, life seems chronically unfair to Victims. The test questions were worded badly. There was never a real shot at the promotion that went to the boss’s favorite. The deck is always stacked against Victims, and they have nothing but bad luck. They haven’t figured out yet that hard work puts you in a place where good luck can find you, and they are famous for putting in little effort. You’ll recognize them by their signature excuses.
At the same time we’re weeding out these doubters from our lives and companies, it’s equally important we surround ourselves with positive people. Their character traits and habits are also contagious, but in a good way. Whether you’re building a leadership team or cleaning house in your social circle, look for the encouragers and believers, the high-energy movers and shakers who don’t have “can’t” in their vocabulary. Surround yourself with people who dream bigger than you do. They passionately improve everything in their path, from processes and products to colleagues and employees. They believe anything is possible, and they’ll believe in you.
Never aspire to be the best on the team. Aspire to be the best for the team.
The most important attitude to watch, of course, is our own. We can’t always change the people or circumstances in our lives, but we can always change our response. Excellence is not a skill; it is an attitude, and positive thinking breeds courageous habits.
Whenever you have the opportunity, become the encourager and motivate others. Never aspire to be the best on the team. Aspire to be the best for the team. Spotlight-stealers and credit-takers don’t typically rise up the leadership ladder. Promotions are reserved for those who demonstrate service to their team and to their company. It’s often said that if service is beneath you, leadership is beyond you.
As I always say, success is never owned. It’s rented, and the rent is due every day. Build the right team. They’ll help you pay the rent.
Related: 9 Ways to Say No to Negativity