Be a Practical Positive

Jaan: Shoot Day 1
13 Mar 2011
The month in review
18 Mar 2011

Virtually everyone in the motivational arena, including myself, talks about the importance of positive thinking. Having a positive frame of mind is very important to your success in whatever your endeavours. A positive mindset does not, however, equate to being happy and joyful and overly full of smiles everyday, and I find that that’s where a lot of people come unstuck.

What we generally mean when we say you should be more positive is that you should focus on making headway and not on failures or obstacles. When you’re complaining and focusing on the things that are preventing your success, when you’re constantly talking about how bad things are or how impossible it may be for you to achieve success as you define it, you are not in a positive mindset. You are in fact closing yourself off to the very success you crave.

Regardless of your current emotional state, you actively need to shift your focus from the obstacles to how you can overcome those obstacles. Instead of complaining, brainstorm solutions. It’s perfectly fine to vent your frustrations, but do not get stuck on only doing just that. At some point, it is important to move past the venting and determining what can be done. This is what I call a practical positive.

Think positively and do positively. Just sitting in your living room, thinking that everything is hunky dory may work in some instances, most specifically if you’re a goat herder living in the Himalayan mountains. But in the fast paced world of western civilisation, you need to be proactive. Follow your positive thoughts with some sort of positive action.

What the action is would depend, of course, on what you wish to achieve and what your current obstacles are. In this sense, it is important to have a mentor or coach who can assist you. You can just as easily chat to friends but, unless your friends have the skills and talents specific helping you, that is as useful as learning to play golf from somebody who’s never swung a club. There are several books and audio media available as well; you don’t always need a flesh and blood mentor.

Here’s a very good article geared toward women entrepreneurs (although it’s just as useful for the other gender) learning from any mentor in existence: Get Mentored by Someone You’ve Never Met

Being positive also isn’t about being a blind optimist. Yes, you should expect success and good things but expect those things because of your current actions and because of your faith in your skills, your talents, your self-worth and your self-value. The more you work on yourself, the luckier you will become, the better able you will attract the right situations and people, and the more capable you will be of taking advantage of those opportunities.

No doubt you’ve heard about being at the right place at the right time. Well, that’s only applicable if you’re also the right person. If you don’t have the right skills, no matter how optimistic and positive you are, no matter how perfect the opportunity is, if you aren’t in a position to take it, you’re going to miss out.

You can always work on bettering yourself. Whether it’s a gym routine, martial arts training, reading financial books, or taking a speed-reading course, those are all positive actions that you can do on a regular basis, even if you don’t have a set vision or goal yet – Well, if you don’t, I strong advise that you stop reading now and write one out!

On the homepage of, you’ll see a quote by William Arthur Ward: “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”

I am all for being optimistic and positive, but I also understand that being in that frame of mind must be backed up by positive action. Expect great things, and do what you need to to put yourself in the path of those great things. That may include opening yourself up to opportunities that you wouldn’t ordinarily grab. It may just include improving yourself and your skills. In the quote above, for example, if you don’t know how to change the sails, you’re leaving yourself at the mercy of the elements and fate.

Learn to control your own fate. That’s how you put trust in yourself and are no longer a slave to your outside surroundings.