Who hasn’t seen the motivational poster that reads “Attitude is Altitude?” I think I have received it as a gift at least twice. Why is the saying so popular? Because it is absolutely true!
Henry Ford is credited with the quote which says, “Whether you think you can or think you cannot, you are absolutely right.” Colin Powell opined “Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.” I could go on but you get the point.
But, is keeping your thoughts positive always the best route to success? From Napoleon Hill to Tony Robbins the power of positive self-talk is well documented yet in his book “To Sell Is Human” author Dan Pink offers research to indicate that another route, interrogative self-talk, might be more effective. Anyone who has kids knows the TV character Bob the Builder. Bob’s famous question when presented with a challenging task is “Can we do it?” to which the reply comes from your living room, “Yes we can.” In research by the University of Mississippi it was found that groups who preceded solving puzzles by asking themselves “can we solve this” outperformed the groups that told themselves “I can solve this” by 50%. In another experiment one group of participants were asked to write “I will” 20 times before solving a problem and the second group was asked to write “Will I” 20 times before solving theirs. You guessed it; the “Will I” group solved almost twice as many puzzles. It is great to be positive but the process of asking yourself “Can we do it”, like our friend Bob the Builder, actually causes your problem solving ability to kick into high gear.
If you would like to learn more about the power of a positive attitude on outcomes in life check out the research of Barbara Fredrickson of the University of North Carolina. Her “Positivity Ratio” is fascinating and she identifies the 10 positive emotions as:
If you can focus on a few of these every day and use the Bob the Builder approach when preparing to sell you might find you sell a little more. Either way your day will be a little nicer, I’m positive of that.