There are few times when the night is darker than when we are in transition. The colors may seem less bright; the flavors, more muted. If you have been struggling with this, this installment is just for you.
There is a quotation from a Star Wars movie that sums up a revelation I had:
“Remember: your perception determines your reality.”—Qui-Gon Jinn, The Phantom Menace
While some might think it insipid to find meaning in pop culture, I would remind such readers of Shakespeare’s words: “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”.
Perception is critical. If we are angry or depressed, we might incorrectly perceive that we have nothing to offer at a networking event and thereby miss an opportunity to hear a speaker who could have provided some great takeaways, or meet a new contact who can really help. Mindset shaped the course of events, in this case by removing us from an opportunity.
This begs the question: how to leverage this truth most effectively and make it work for us? I submit there are two simple and complementary strategies to maintain a positive attitude and enthusiasm.
Control the Inputs
What this really means: manage the information and moods to which we are exposed. For example, I have a friend whose company I enjoy. However, she has a tendency to focus on the negative: the state of the economy; the difficulties of managing job search; the tragic news story du jour…if in a bad mood, I have to avoid taking her call for my own sanity! Conversely, I have friends whose company I actively seek when I am not at my best because they focus on the positive.
Bottom line, moods are contagious: all I am advocating is the metaphoric equivalent of washing your hands and taking vitamin C. Here are a few suggestions along those lines:
- Most of us have particular music to which we listen when we’re happy—put some on!
- Try taking the time to fix a meal of favorite comfort foods! A good meal can nourish both body and soul.
- Talk to an old friend to catch up and help celebrate his or her recent successes.
Control the Outputs
We know a person by his or her words and deeds: together, they are our outputs and speak to the kinds of people we are. Accordingly, they can be great tools in managing our mindsets.
There are of course two sides to this: the things you refrain from saying/doing, and those you do not. The former is easily addressed: avoid wallowing in feeling bad or speaking ill of former employers or the like. The latter is also straightforward: doing something that helps another person makes us feel good. So to focus on the positive: what kinds of words and deeds are constructive?
- Write a LinkedIn recommendation for a former manager or report—provided of course you can do so honestly.
- Grow a relationship with a connection from a networking event with an appropriate news story or job posting.
- Find a charitable organization whose mission you support and donate some of your time.
Bottom line: the things we do and say can and will affect our mindset.
In summary, managing one’s thinking is important, and there are several easy ways to do it. At the end of the day, controlling inputs and outputs will help you stay focused on the big picture: landing your next opportunity.