When negative thinking kicks in, we often get stuck there. “And” is the way out.

Jennifer is a consultant on the fast track in a large practice in Los Angeles. She’s curious, bright, and open. She also manages big challenges at work. Like most executives, she wrestles with chronic busyness, frustration, disappointment, and, at times, self-doubt. In our work together, we regularly explore success as a part of her professional development and leadership goals. These are some of my favorite conversations, full of lively dialog and new discoveries.

“What do the most successful people you know do?” Jennifer asked.
“What do you mean?” I said.
“How do they stay motivated and want to keep going in hugely stressful environments?”
“The key lies in one three-letter word,” I said.
“What do you mean?” said Jennifer.
“Successful people don’t hesitate to use the power of ‘AND’ in any situation.”

Successful people see themselves and their choices in dramatically different ways. In fact, they actively seek out and choose perspectives that will serve them. Especially when they’re feeling their most stressed out and negative, successful people understand the power of “and” to allow two experiences to co-exist in your mind without getting stuck in a downward spiral.

Here’s how this works:

When your reaction is:

Follow with:

I am angry.
And, one way I could use my energy to make this productive is…
I’m afraid.
And, one act of courage for me right now is…
I don’t think I can do it.
And, one person I could ask for support is…
I think he/she is a (jerk, etc.).
And, is it possible there’s another way to see this?
I have a complaint about this.
And, one request I could make is…
I think this is (stupid, a disaster, etc.).
And, if there is anything I can learn from this situation, it would be…
I’m overwhelmed.
And, one person I know who could help is…

Using “and” does away with denying your legitimate negative feelings or feigning positivity. You’re pissed! You’re annoyed! You’re sick of it! You’re disappointed, or even just sad. You can be all of that while, at the same time, choosing a conscious response that is more effective and gets you closer to your goal.

As Professor Thomas C. Foster once said, “What a difference a preposition makes!”

In your toughest moments, will you use this power to redirect your energy and build a bridge to success?

Keenan PR Workshops and Coaching Interested in mastering these tools?

Heathere Evans, APR, teaches teams and individuals how they can enhance their success through emotional intelligence and effective communications practices, inside and out. Learn more about Pivot workshops and coaching or follow her on Twitter.

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