Posted by: kevinliebl | September 9, 2017

It’s not whether the glass is half-empty or half-full, it’s whether the contents will quench your thirst.

Throughout our careers, we seem to find groups of people who are always optimistic and other groups of people who are constantly negative. One group will tell you that things are fantastic while you are watching the business flounder around you. The other group will tell you that the sky is falling; all while things seems to be doing relatively well. It is enough to make you question your own reality, because often they both seem to be right.

Not surprisingly, it is human nature to side with the optimistic group and dismiss the negative group. Most people don’t like to be negative and we are taught from an early age that with confidence, you can accomplish anything. Henry Ford made the famous quote, “Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” So, isn’t it best to stay positive and believe that everything will work out?

I believe we spend too much time focusing on the wrong question. While negative thinking will certainly get you nowhere, blind optimism will do the same. Companies need employees with positive attitudes, but we also need employees who have the backbone to raise their hands and show that the “emperor has no clothes”. Otherwise, how will we address our threats and weaknesses?

Glass Half Full or Half Empty

The question is not whether the glass is half-empty or half-full, the question is whether the glass will quench your thirst. The glass may be half-full, but if it is filled with sand, then someone needs to explain that there is a problem. We can’t be blinded by the partial success of having a half full glass. This sets the bar too low.

Sometimes it is difficult and painful to listen to negative feedback, but this is the only way that companies succeed. We need to be focused on the goal, and be willing to listen to our colleagues when they offer guidance and suggestions. Blind optimism and a sense that we are the smartest ones in the room becomes a recipe for failure. Collaboration and a willingness to listen to the constructive feedback is one of the cornerstones of successful companies. Good managers are not threatened by feedback, they welcome it.

As you interact with your colleagues, don’t measure them by whether they are positive or negative. Value their input either way and question whether they are focused on the end goal. If the feedback is constructive and driving the company toward greater success, then it is worth listening to.

Now I am thirsty, I need to go fill my glass…

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