A song from my past
was “Accentuate the Positive; Eliminate the Negative”. One of the lines said, “Don’t mess with Mister In-Between”. We have had many years of remediation of weaknesses, attempting to eliminate the negative. We look at the negative and follow a disease model where we catch people when they are wrong. If pointing out mistakes was effective, how many parents would never repeat themselves when they say, “Stop doing that!” The unfortunate truth is that whatever that parent wanted the child to stop is probably now going to be done again. If nothing else, the child now knows how to get the parents’ attention.
This article is about a shift in what we accentuate–what we focus on–what we pay attention to. We have known for a long time that whatever we pay attention is likely to be repeated. Therefore, we will do better in our attempt to practice great human development if we focus on what is good, what is positive, what is right about our fellow human beings. Since people don’t really change that much, why not find what is positive and build on that?
A TURNING POINT
The Positive Approach describes a monumental change that has taken place in the last fifty years. This change has happened in all the human sciences (biology, anthropology, psychology, sociology, theology, physiology, etc.). The big turn around reveals that we are no longer fixated on faults and failing. We are not looking at disease to discover health; not studying divorce to create happy marriages; and no longer trying to correct our weaknesses in the workplace.
The Positive Approach is a call to discover and share the true stories of people and organizations at their best, finding the joy of success rather than the pathology of abuses and restraints.
The Positive Approach invites the expression of your hopes and dreams, with the realization that what we focus on becomes our reality
The Positive Approach claims the power of now, recognizes quantum reality; and “gets it” : that we create successful living from our true essence.
WHO ARE YOU?
The Positive Approach is your invitation to continue unfolding your essential true self. Looking at joy and success, our uniquely individual stories unfold in the light of our best potential, our highest thought, and our grandest feelings. Expressing our hopes and dreams in the positive form is the call to creation of what we can be. Creation of the your best possible self is actually possible. That possibility can be realized through the genius management of managers, parents, or bosses who follow the positive approach to human development. Those guiding lights can, on a daily basis, invite you to know your strengths and manage your weaknesses.
We are learning to manage the weaknesses and give the primary energy to building on the strengths, envisioning and creating success. When we are trying to operate outside our strengths, we can do three things. First, we can use the Strengths we do have. Second, we can enlist the help of a friend or co-worker who has the needed Strengths. Third, we can ignore the weakness and simply go forward. Trying to remediate the weakness is the negative approach and it does not work any better than any other system of punishment for mistakes. I heard Donald O. Clifton say many times, “The absence of disease is not the same as the presence of health.” Health is very different from just not being sick. Strengths are very different from just not making mistakes or fixing weaknesses. Positive growth and development helps us play from our strengths instead of pursuing impossible perfectionistic behavior where we get everything right!
IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO HAVE A HAPPY CHILDHOOD
I cut my therapist’s teeth on a theory called Transactional Analysis. We learned that the injunctions set us up to believe we were not enough. These injunctions were stated as Don’ts (Don’t feel, Don’t think, Don’t be yourself, etc.) and they were not spoken but were sent by the non-verbal expressions from parents reacting to misbehavior; the counter-injunctions were taught, usually spoken, to compensate for all those “Don’ts”. The counter-injunctions were also neurotic even though they were expressed as “Do’s”. They were the basic rules to live by so that we could alleviate our self doubt and all our fears. These counter-injunctions were false promises but we desperately attempted to obey them. The implied message was:
“You will be in favor if you will DO this: 1)Be Perfect; 2) Be Pleasing; 3) Be Strong; 4) Be Careful; 5)Try Hard; and 6) Hurry Up.
Here is an encouraging word: New positive permission says 1) You are OK even when you make mistakes; 2) you can learn what pleases you; 3)you can lighten up and not carry the whole load; 4) you can take risks; 5) you are free to stop “trying” and go ahead and just do it; and 6) you have the right to live your life according to your own time table. These permissions can come from inside you instead of coming from some new parent person on the outside.
THE GOOD NEWS AND THE BAD NEWS
The Positive Approach claims the power of now, recognizes quantum reality; and “gets it” : that we create successful living from our true essence. Our beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and behavior are 100% our own individual responsibility. Awareness of these four major parts of who we are will open the door to success in becoming all we can be. You and you alone own your beliefs, your thoughts, your feelings, and your behavior. That is both the good news and the bad!
The Positive Approach says that your true essence is something good. A Greek word, entelechy, is used to describe our dynamic purposiveness. It is the entelechy of a pear seed to become a fruitful pear tree. Jean Houston says, “Entelechy is all about the possibilities encoded in each of us. For example it is the entelechy of an acorn to be an oak tree, of a baby to be a grown-up, of a popcorn kernel to be a fully popped entity, and of you and me to be God only knows what. ”
The Positive Approach is your invitation to continue unfolding your essential true self. Looking at joy and success, our uniquely individual stories unfold in the light of our best potential, our highest thought, and our grandest feelings. Expressing our hopes and dreams in the positive form is the call to creation of what we can be. What we can be takes positive form through the organizations we serve. We can discover and create wisdom in the workplace, based on stories from the past, the creative genius of the future, and the power of now. We have realized the futility of the old path, where we searched out weakness, faults and failure. The disease model is crumbling and we are on the cutting edge of a positive revolution.
This revolution will facilitate the coming of the next industrial age. It can usher in a Strengths Based Culture in all institutions and organizations. A Strengths Based Culture will harness the inventive imagination of engaged workers and managers to achieve revolutionary cultural goals. We have enough talent to heal this planet. We can optimistically and positively draw out the best in each other and achieve the next era of human evolution, where we might just learn to live together in peace.