The Inside-Out Approach to Positivity: Five Ways to Face Challenges Without Giving Them the Power to Define You
We tend to believe that external forces have the power to shape our lives. Not true. When we choose to live from the inside-out, rather than the outside-in, we can face even the most daunting challenges without getting pulled into negativity and pessimism.
By Jon Gordon
In a world dominated by negativity, how do you build a life around optimism and hope? After all, pessimism comes at us from all angles, from social media to the news to “naysaying” colleagues, friends, and family members. It’s all too easy to get preoccupied with challenges involving work, health, family, and other problem areas. But no matter what outside forces seem to be shaping your fate, you have the ultimate control over your thoughts and actions—and realizing this simple fact can transform your life.
People think success and happiness descend on them from the outside, but that’s not true. Your circumstances don’t have the power to define you. The power is on the inside. You can create your life—a great life—from the inside-out, not the outside-in.
When Superman took off his cape, who was he? People say he was Clark Kent, but no—he was still Superman. He was Superman on the inside. That’s where his power was.
True, external challenges, events, and circumstances exist—and we all have to deal with them—but they don’t have to drag you down into negativity and pessimism.
Let’s take traffic, for example. One day traffic really bothers you. Another day you are listening to a great song or podcast, you’re in a great mood, and the traffic doesn’t bother you. Is it the circumstance—the traffic—or your state of mind that is producing how you feel?
If it were the circumstance, your response would be the same, 100 percent of the time. So it’s not the challenge, change, economy, election, adversity, or setback you are facing. It’s always your state of mind and your thinking that produce how you feel and respond.
The message is simple yet powerful: A life created inside-out allows you to cultivate optimism, explore your potential, and sculpt a life of passion and purpose. Here, I share five tips:
Don’t look outside; look inside. The choice is yours: You can look at the stock market, the job market, the negativity on social media, and listen to what the world says, or you can look inside to your heart, soul, spirit, purpose, and passion, and listen to what your heart says.
The world is filled with pessimism, naysayers, and critics, but pessimists don’t change the world. Naysayers talk about problems but don’t solve them. Critics write words, but they don’t write the future. As I discuss in my new book The Power of Positive Leadership, it’s the positive leaders, the dreamers, the doers, and those with the passion and purpose inside them who create the world outside them.
Love it; don’t fear it. I know a kicker in the NFL who was struggling during his second year. There was talk in the media that he might get cut, so I reached out to him and asked what was going on. He said he was thinking too much. I said, “Tell me about your rookie season.” He said, “I was loving kicking. I was living my dream playing in the NFL. I was just going for it.”
Then I said, “Tell me about this year.” He said, “I missed a few kicks during preseason. I don’t want to let the coach down. I don’t want to let the team down. I don’t want to get cut.” I reminded him to get back to loving kicking and loving the game. I told him that love casts out fear, so if you love it, you won’t fear it. He was able to love kicking again and had a great rest of the season.
It’s a simple, powerful lesson for you as well. Love your work. Love life. When you fill up with love, fear dissipates. If you love it, you won’t fear it.
Don’t believe the lies. It’s essential to understand that your fear and negative thoughts are not coming from you. After all, who would ever choose to have a negative thought? Your fear and negative thoughts come from consciousness. They just pop in and often at the worst times. But here’s the deal: Just because you have a negative thought doesn’t mean you have to believe it.
Recognize that fear is a liar. Your negative thoughts are lies. Don’t believe the lies. Know the truth. The truth is you have everything you need inside you to be successful. The truth is that no matter how you feel or what thoughts pop into your head, you are capable of doing something great. The truth is that each day you have an opportunity to make today great.
Look at your challenges as opportunities. A recent Gallup study shows that the worst event of our lives often leads to the best if we stay positive and keep moving forward. My advice: Believe that the best is yet to come.
Even when Clemson lost the national championship in the 2015 season, coach Dabo Swinney believed they would return the following year and kept pointing his football team toward a positive future. He didn’t see the loss as a challenge. He saw an opportunity to come back and win it the following year—and that’s what they did.
Just be you. Remember that your power lies in your individuality. No one can offer the world the same talents and abilities that you bring to it. An original is much more valuable than a replica. Being you—doing what you love and living from your heart and soul—is the way to live with power.
Even in a pessimistic world, you can overcome any challenge and create your joy from the inside-out. External circumstances are just that—external. They can’t really hurt you at all. Adopting an inside-out approach is the key to living optimistically. And when you say goodbye to any and all negativity, you can truly focus on what you want in life, and start living and leading from a place of unstoppable power. From there, anything is possible.
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About the Author:
Jon Gordon’s newest book is The Power of Positive Leadership: How and Why Positive Leaders Transform Teams and Organizations and Change the World. His best-selling books and talks have inspired readers and audiences around the world. His principles have been put to the test by numerous NFL, NBA, and MLB coaches and teams, Fortune 500 companies, school districts, hospitals, and non-profits.
In addition to his new book, Jon has written numerous bestsellers, including The Energy Bus, The Carpenter, Training Camp, The Seed, You Win in the Locker Room First, and The No Complaining Rule. He and his tips have been featured on Today, CNN, CNBC, The Golf Channel, Fox and Friends, and in numerous magazines and newspapers. His clients include the Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Falcons, Campbell’s Soup, Dell, Publix, Southwest Airlines, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, Pittsburgh Pirates, BB&T, Clemson Football, Northwestern Mutual, Bayer, the U.S. Military Academy, and more.
Jon is a graduate of Cornell University and holds a master’s in teaching from Emory University. He and his consulting company are passionate about developing positive leaders, organizations, and teams.
About the Book:
The Power of Positive Leadership: How and Why Positive Leaders Transform Teams and Organizations and Change the World (Wiley, April 2017, ISBN: 978-1-1193519-7-9, $25.00, www.jongordon.com) is available at bookstores nationwide, from major online booksellers, and direct from the publisher by calling 800-225-5945. In Canada, call 800-567-4797. For more information, please visit the book’s page on www.wiley.com.