By: David Novak, Co-Founder & CEO of David Novak Leadership
I have said so many times in my life, “Positive energy lifts you up. Negative energy brings you down.” It’s important for us to get rid of the negative energy in our lives and move forward with a positive attitude. Even though I know this, I admit I need to practice what I preach and work on this in certain areas of my life.
We all have difficult or challenging things happen that force us into the dismal path of negativity. Unfortunately, the more we keep this baggage around, the more it feeds on itself and takes you further down the drain. As much as I know this, I still sometimes fall into the negativity trap.
Since I’ve retired, I’ve had the opportunity to work on my golf game. I set a goal to qualify for a major amateur tournament, but recently failed to do so by making some silly errors, which put me in a negative mindset in the second round of the qualifying tournament. I have to admit, I spent way too much time having a pity party and reliving all my bad shots again and again. Doing this made me question my abilities and created all kinds of anxiety about playing a game I love—a game that brings me joy.
I clearly needed to let it go and focus on the future. After all, the past should help us learn and inspire us about what’s possible in the future. In that game, I actually played better than most of my competitors, and I hit some fabulous shots. I had to take time to realize this and get back into a positive mindset. Doing that energized me to improve my game and enjoy that process. I realized there are new opportunities ahead, but only if I let go of the past. Believe me, I’m doing my best to let it go and I know I am better for it.
Conversely, in a much more significant area in my life, I recently concluded chemotherapy and radiation treatments for breast cancer. I never once asked myself, “Why me?” I didn’t allow myself to fill my mind with negative baggage. Instead, cancer forced me to realize just how blessed I’ve been in my life. I have had 63 years of near perfect health. I have the love and support of an amazing family. And I loved my work so much I never felt I worked a day in my life—work was actually my hobby! So far, I’ve lived a life of joy, traveled the world and achieved more than I ever imagined.
Having gratitude gave me the positive attitude I needed to persevere through the treatments and focus on getting well. For example, the doctors told me exercise would be key to my well being, so I worked out before and after my chemotherapy and worked out every other day of the week. It got my endorphins going, which energized me and kept me positive. I also started every day having quiet time with God and writing down three things I was grateful for in my life. It all helped me stay positive throughout my treatments and virtually eliminated the anxiety and worry I could have had.
The lesson here is, focusing on things that went wrong keeps you stuck in the past and bogs you down, while being grateful helps you keep a positive attitude—even through negative situations. Let’s all do our best to stay positive this year and focus on the great things ahead.
David’s passion is to make the world a better place by developing leaders at all ages through David Novak Leadership, his family’s Lift-a-Life Foundation, Lead4Change, Global Game Changers and The Novak Leadership Institute at the University of Missouri.
Novak has been recognized as “2012 CEO of the Year” by Chief Executive magazine, one of the world’s “30 Best CEOs” by Barron’s, one of the “Top People in Business” by FORTUNE and one of the “100 Best-Performing CEOs in the World” by Harvard Business Review…
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