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Neutralizing Negativity: How Contrast Creates Positive Perspective

When things go wrong, it’s easy to dwell on missed opportunities or previous mistakes.  But instead of getting stuck in the past, what if we used our negative experiences as an opportunity to improve?

“Contrast” is a word I play with a lot.  I think most of us go through life looking at things as simply negative and positive, and I used to do the same. 
But as a leader, I think it’s important that we keep things in balance.  In fact, I’m not sure “negative” things are all that bad.  They spur us into action—they provide us with contrast!

I am hoping that these first days of summer are treating you well.  Here in Ohio, the weather is getting hot and humid—and although I do like going to the pool, visiting the ocean, and enjoying the sunshine, it’s not my favorite time of the year.  However, it gives me some contrast and allows me to look forward to cooler and crisper weather.

“Contrast” is a word I play with a lot.  I think most of us go through life looking at things as simply negative and positive, and I used to do the same thing.  In fact, in businesses, we often look at things through a negative lens.  We seem to talk most often about what’s broken, what needs fixed, and why we aren’t making sales as fast as expected.

As a leader, I think it’s important that we keep things in balance.  In fact, I’m not sure “negative” things are all that bad.  They spur us into action—they provide us with contrast.

I like to think of contrast like the negative and positive poles on a battery.  Both are needed for the electricity to flow.  The negative energizes me to pivot and think about what I want.  This is a much more empowering feeling for me, and empowerment is an energizing feeling.

Interestingly, in the past two weeks, a phrase about this concept keeps popping up around me.  And when I hear a phrase multiple times, I’ve learned to pay attention.  Here’s what it is:

“You can’t keep looking back and moving away from something,
you have to move forward toward something”

How much time do we spend stuck in the past, trying to undo something that’s already been done, wishing things were different, or regretting decisions we made?  Life happens, and we often make mistakes.  We can’t always control what happens to us, our organizations, or our loved ones, but we can control how we respond to it.  We can use this contrast as an impetus to pivot.

Instead of dwelling on past mistakes, I believe we should glance back (the key word here is “glance”) to learn from the situation, and then focus our eyes fully on the road in front of us.   Decide where you want to be, where you want your organization to be, and what life you want to have.

I encourage you to take a moment, assess where you are, and see if maybe you are spending too much time looking back.  If so, take this moment to pivot and look forward.   Create the future that you want at home, at work, and in your relationships.  Hopefully it can help you as much as it’s helping me.

I wish for you a wonder-filled path forward as we enjoy the beauty of the summer.

Keep having fun,

Jeff Van Fleet
President & CEO
Lighthouse Technologies, Inc.
Software Testing | Quality Assurance Consulting | Oracle EBS Consulting

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