The one question that helped me be more positive

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There is a misconception that being positive equates to experiencing less discomfort, annoyance, or confusion. Or at least that is what I thought for a long time. If I just be positive, I won't encounter problems.

Totally, and obviously, untrue. Choosing to operate in the positive changes one thing: how you experience problems. Blind positivity is just another way to avoid something like making a decision, or facing a conflict head on. It prolongs rumination, the enemy of action.

One of the best books I have ever read on positivity isn't even a super enlightened self-help book. It's a book on communication, specifically work  communication. Rob Kendall's Workstorming is an essential read for anyone who has to work with other human beings. Read: almost everyone.

I'm going to paraphrase a bit. In one of his examples of how two personas came to misunderstand each other, there is an an assumption that all is lost because there is a sudden lack of something and it has caused an insurmountable issue. A shift in focus, a positive shift in focus occurs and flips it all on its head:

Ask what is needed, instead of what is missing. 

This incredible change in emphasis doesn't change the original problem, whatever it may be, but instead takes it to a place where more options are possible. Isn't that what positivity unlocks? A sense of possibility?

At work, milestones need to be hit. ROI, KPI -- these yardsticks are meant to ask one question: is what we are doing, day in and day out, worth it? With that type of pressure, people can react in all different ways, especially when the deliverables are on them. As Kendall mentions, action orientated people will ask "what" needs to get done. While big picture thinkers might ask "how" it needs to get done.

I've asked both ways. When I'm understaffed and in a bit of a crunch, I'll divert to my ultra-direct, "ankle biter" ways that have made me the organized, content-churning-metric-obsessed planner that I am. Asking "what do we not have? What is missing?" implies we are already in a deficit, and while that might be a fact, it is not a death sentence.

Language is the most powerful tool anyone can use. Shifting an ask, in any type of situation, to "what is needed?", launches you into the positive. Maybe not golden calligraphy strewn over flowers or an entrepreneur's headshot positive, but still, positive.