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The positive in negative situations

Improving Systems and Habits

Scott Miker is the author of several books that describe how to use systems and habits to improve.  This free blog provides articles that to help understand the principles related to building systems.  

The positive in negative situations

Scott Miker

I have found that the positive moments and negative moments in our lives are all jumbled together.  There are always good things going on and certainly times when everything seems bad.

But the paradoxical nature of things says that even in bad there is good.  Even in our most challenging situations we can find positive aspects.  And even in good times there are bad elements. 

The reality is that growth is only possible when we get outside of our comfort zone and stretch our capabilities.  We have to learn new things in order to improve and this means that we have to be stretched a little thin from time to time. 

Years ago I heard a quote about change that basically said every good thing in our life came out of some sort of change.  It argued that change was always the first step.

But we tend to view change as an uncomfortable disruption more than the seed of opportunity.  But we can start to shift this mindset to better focus on the big picture.  We can see past the short-term difficulties and create a vision of the long-term future. 

The opposite is also true.  Over the past few years I have noticed a trend.  When I start to have some success or even if I experience some good luck, it is usually followed by something somewhat negative.  It seems like when something positive is happening I shut out the reality that there is still negative in the situation.  Then when the negative aspects inevitably surface, it seems to impact me more.

The best way to counter this, in my opinion, is to remain centered.  If we can understand that both positive and negative exist together we can be better prepared when the challenges arise. 

Some of this can be witnessed by observing professional athletes.  Some of the athletes that do the most showboating during wins are also the ones that handle the losses the hardest.  Many times this gets attributed to being emotionally tied to the game and having an extreme drive to win.  But many will criticize these individuals much more than the humble athlete. 

I remember reading a book by Jim Tressel, the former Ohio State football coach.  In it he talked about how he keeps his players playing at an elite level for every game.  He stressed that he works with them so they don’t tie their personal value to the outcome.  Win or lose they shouldn’t change how they define themselves. 

I think we can all look to this to gain some perspective.  By remaining humble and not attaching our value to the outcome, we can be better prepared to handle the ups and downs in life.  We can look at every experience as a learning one and do everything we can to focus on improvement rather than outcome.  By doing this we will be able to perform consistently at a high level and take on new, challenging situations. 

Yet the headlines will always follow polarizing people.  The individuals that hold extreme views tend to know that their one-sided mindset will pull some passionate followers to their side, even if it also means that they will make some enemies. 

But we can’t get sucked into this mindset.  Everything (whether random life occurrences or our political views) carries the positive and negative.  In order to truly improve we have to be able to identify both the good and the bad in life and act based on improvement.  We can make progress by understanding the paradoxical nature of things and understanding that both positive and negative exist together.