It’s that time of the year again. The lunar New Year festivities have been flourishing in full swing. The most amazing displays of fireworks and lion dances have been regaling us this week.
This year is the year of the Boar, which is the twelfth of the 12-year cycle of animals in the Chinese zodiac. I am extra excited, because I was born in the year of the Boar.
My excitement led me to look for the musings of Feng Shui masters to see what 2019 has in-store for me. Being a “metal-boar”, I was very pleased to read that I can anticipate “unexpected cash flow.”
I am not usually culturally inclined to pay much heed to the Chinese zodiac. But, being Malaysian at core, I tend to cherry pick the positives from the cultures around me, to help me along the way.
And, do notice how I only paid attention to the positive aspects of the zodiac readings.
It sounds so clichéd, but positive thinking has an enormous impact on every part of your life, particularly your career.
While your skillset is vital for progress at work, it is your ability to reframe your thoughts optimistically, that plays the pivotal role, in you achieving any sustainable success at work.
There are senior managers that I coach, for instance, who struggle with their jobs. And, they are not incompetent or disengaged. Their struggles are just caused by working with negative people, with negative attitudes, on a daily basis.
This is a common dilemma for many people on my leadership coaching programme. They feel tremendous stress, and more often than not, this condition is caused purely by negative thinking.
Resonating negatively is a common condition afflicting many.
I have learnt that negative thoughts make me worry and stress, in the most inappropriate ways.
This week I had to deal with worry and stress. I was in Bangkok conducting a series of leadership coaching sessions when my father called to inform me that my mother had been hospitalised.
I had to get a grip of myself and focus on what I could do for my folks from that far away. I did what I could, and after a couple of days, I got myself back to Penang to be with them.
Apart from being grateful that my mother was out imminent danger, the most inspiring thing happened when I had a chat with her cardiologist, Dr Rajesh P Shah, at Gleneagles Hospital in Penang.
He explained my mother’s situation quite thoroughly, and thankfully he spared us the medical jargon, which is a sign of a doctor who understands that family members have a limited ability to grasp facts, at trying times.
After he explained her condition, the prognosis, and the treatment plan, I asked him rather innocently, that aside from resting, what else should my mother do?
He smiled and said she just needed to be positive, and be surrounded by people who were positive.
I didn’t expect that, but I was totally overjoyed that my mother was in good hands, with Dr Rajesh.
Through my work and my personal experiences, I know that healthy and happy people think about what they want, and how to get it, all the time. They develop a positive attitude that truly changes their entire life.
I went right back to my mother’s room, and we talked about the treatment plan briefly. Then we started discussing all the interesting new things that will happen when she comes out of the hospital. We talked about how much more time she was going to spend with me and my wife in Kuala Lumpur, and this made her really happy.
As a result, almost instantly her spirits lifted, and she looked re-energised.
There was a study on the effects of worry and our ability to perform tasks by Pennsylvania State University. The study was cited in the Journal of Clinical Psychology in 1990. It showed that people who are anxious for more than fifty per cent of the time, had a reduced ability to sort objects, as the difficulty of those tasks increased.
The research went on to demonstrate that this disruption was a result of increased levels of negative thoughts. It appears that when the brain is faced with complex tasks, negative thinking actually hurts your ability to process information, and think clearly.
Psychologist, and author of the book “Hardwiring Happiness”, Dr. Rick Hanson argues that if you successfully train your mind to replace negative thoughts with positive or constructive ones, you will experience less anxiety and depression.
Just remember that thinking negatively about your problems doesn’t solve anything. It actually makes it harder for you to create any useful solution.
When you learn to look at the silver linings in every situation, you will have greater compassion, love, contentment, joy, gratitude, self-esteem, and satisfaction with life; and overall happiness.
Isn’t this what you want at work, and in life?
Gong Xi Fa Chai, everyone and let positivity reign in 2019.
Shankar R. Santhiram is managing consultant and executive leadership coach at EQTD Consulting. He is also the author of the national bestseller “So, You Want To Get Promoted?”