Archives for July 2021

Negative people have a problem for every solution

The title is a quote from Einstein, and it’s true. In addition to thinking it’s better to approach matters from a positive perspective, I think he is getting at being open to ideas. When someone has an idea, some people jump on the bandwagon too fast and others pick the idea apart until nothing is left. Neither of these actions or reactions is helpful. Instead, new ideas should be approached with an equal amount of positive skepticism and thoughts on how to make the idea a success.

By positive skepticism, I mean you bring negative thoughts in a constructive manner to try to work through what you see as issues. The possible results are you can or can’t work through the issues, which may or may not put the idea to rest. There is another possible result, which is the idea is tweaked based on constructive dialogue and these changes can be small to large, but the idea or its original spirit remains viable.

Each of us has the ability to control whether we approach an idea in a positive or negative manner. Sometimes how we approach an idea has nothing to do with the idea itself. Our approach may be based on the messenger, how the idea was communicated, or some other issue that shades our consideration of the idea.

After many of my own failures in providing constructive feedback over time, I feel I am usually able to discern whether my initial thoughts on an idea are how I honestly feel or because of some other external factor. This is a work in progress, and is an example of why thinking before speaking is important. When I have an immediately negative internal response to an idea, I try to determine why and whether how I feel is based on the idea or something else. The point is being first to respond doesn’t win you an award, so thinking through a new idea provides the opportunity for a more thoughtful and honest response.

Don’t be the person with a problem for every solution. Be thoughtful and constructive. This can mean leaving your ego to the side and supporting the success of others. It also can be the difference of you receiving thoughtful and constructive feedback next time you put yourself out there to others with a new idea.

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Routines and patterns are important to the thread of many of our daily lives. Things such as getting up at the same time, eating the same breakfast, and driving the same route to work are extremely common. If one of these types of tasks changes, how do you react? If an ingredient you need for your usual breakfast isn’t available, is it easy for you to change course? What if there is an accident on your usual route to your office?

The ability to change mid-course during any action or activity is important. For many people, changing course is very difficult and results either wasted time or squandered opportunities. For those who can adapt quickly, their day is easier or whatever they are involved in at the time has better results.

An example for me is an oral argument before a court. I always prepare an outline, practice, and go in with a plan. Sometimes I go through my outline, finish what I planned to say, and sit down. Most times, I am taken off course from my outline either through positions or arguments taken by the opposing party or questions from the judge. In those situations, you have to adapt quickly. It’s not okay for me to ignore an opposing party’s argument or a judge’s question, and potentially worse for my client. Instead, I have figured out how to include responding to a new argument or answering a judge’s question and returning to where I was on my outline. This type of in the moment situation certainly keeps me focused and ready to change what I’m addressing on a dime.

In every day life, is more likely that an accident or traffic will cause you to want to change your route to work. Today many apps make it easier and will tell you the next best route to take. Sometimes you have to make those decisions.

My family and I were recently on a road trip. On a particular day we had a long drive planned. Of course, we got a late start and various things along the way caused us to be well behind schedule. We could’ve gotten mad. We could’ve pushed through to our destination making it an even longer day than planned. Instead, because we had the ability to be flexible, we changed routes and ended up in a different city than planned that night. We were lucky that our overall plan allowed this and our original destination wasn’t somewhere we had to be that evening. At the same time, this decision wasn’t stressful because both my wife and I are able to adapt to circumstances, make decisions, and then follow them.

Another way to look at the need for immediate change is opportunity. When an ingredient you need for your breakfast is missing, it’s an opportunity to make a change and try something else, if only for a day. I am a big user of Waze. This has taken me through many beautiful neighborhoods between my home and office I never would’ve seen even though they are not that far from my home. The point is the need to change course can bring opportunity, some entertainment, and maybe some enjoyment.

Next time you’re presented with the need to deviate from your usual routine, try to have an open mind and find the good or beauty in the difference from what you usually do.

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