In Wisconsin, we get excited when spring arrives. We finally get to spend some time outdoors and enjoy the sun and the crisp fresh air. A few years ago, my spring cleanup was unforgettable, as well as regrettable. I mulched, edged, trimmed, cut, and fertilized the lawn. The last thing that I did was to spot-treat the weeds in the lawn, flower beds, and sidewalk cracks.
The next morning, Rachel woke up, opened the blinds, and said to me, “D, did you spray the weeds yesterday?” I told her I had, and she went on to say, “Why did you spray the Hosta plants? They’re definitely not weeds and now they are all dead!” Unfortunately for me, the Hosta plants were the first “things” that you saw when you walked out the back door of our house. Without the thick Hosta for cover, you would now be looking at an ugly fence from 1954.
Rachel wasn’t very happy, and she had good reason. Regrettably, I had accidentally killed our fence cover. But I was confused, which was not all that uncommon when it came to our horticulture. I never did spray the Hosta plants directly, but I had sprayed around the area. The weed killer must have seeped into the cracks of the walk and onto the roots of the Hosta. That, or it blew on them from the wind. Unfortunately, the poison of the spray wiped out what had been our panacea of fence cover.
A couple of weeks after I got over the embarrassment of what had happened, I read that repeated complaining rewires your brain to make future complaining more likely. Over time, you find that it’s easier to be negative than to be positive, regardless of what’s happening around you. The negativity spreads and becomes the organization’s default behavior. After learning this, I immediately realized that there was a direct correlation between my weed killer/Hosta incident and negative people/positive people in my life.
Take a moment and jot down the names of the 10 people that you spend most of your time with at home, on a sports team, at work, at a volunteer organization, or anywhere else.
On your list, do you know someone who is “poison” and complains about everything? On my list, I do. Unfortunately, I can be that “that person” too. We can all be good at being draining and difficult, can’t we?
On the other hand, do you have someone on your list who is your “panacea” and sees revitalization in everything? I know that I do, and I find myself wanting to spend more time with the panacea people who are happy, positive, and really living life.
Let’s go back to your list. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being a draining person and 10 being an energizing person, place a rating by each person’s name. Next, add up all of the ratings. Then, divide the total number by 10 to calculate the combined average. Save this number.
Imagine that you asked each person on your list to rate you from 1-10. They would probably rate you the same number that ended up being the combined average from your own list. To be sure, the attitude and actions of the people around you will influence your own attitude and actions. Emotions are contagious. “Debbie Downers” influence and create “Debbie Downers.” “Uber Uppers” would likely create “Uber Uppers.” I say, spread the cure, not the sickness.
Debbie Downers create Debbie Downers. Uber Uppers create Uber Uppers. Spread the cure, not the sickness.
Avoid negative people. Surround yourself with happy people. Why is this important? According to The Happiness Advantage book, a happy workforce increases productivity by 31%, sales by 37%, and accuracy by 17%. It’s so powerful that it’s a wonder why more organizations don’t take the time to find out what would make their biggest assets happier at work. One of the best ways to create a culture of positivity. Stop complaining. Be nice. Smile. Make friends. Praise others.
Attitude has power. And the best part is that YOU control it.
ACTION: Reflect on the following question every quarter to forever improve the culture around you. How can you spend more time with the 9s and 10s…the people that motivate you, and less time with the 1s and 2s…the people that deplete you?