HOW TO KEEP A POSITIVE ATTITUDE IN AN UNCERTAIN ENVIRONMENT

What a week!  This has been one of unexpected personnel change.  Being a senior leader in the oil and gas services industry, I’ve learned to be flexible.  The current market has created a daily sense of the unknown.  It seems every day I’m walking through a jungle.  Mired deep into the unknown.  Everyday seems to be an adventure to maintain a positive attitude. Sleepless nights are normal.  If five hours of good REM sleep is achieved, I am satisfied and elated.  Worry and anxiety become a normal routine. Our attitudes can take a big hit in an uncertain environment.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way, because we have control over our thoughts and attitude.

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Attitude is dependent on your feelings toward something, someone or a situation.  Each person has an inward voice that encourages either self-promotion or self-defeat. Yes, there are some things that happen beyond our control. We all experience disappointment, heartache and difficult situations. However, what we do have control over is our response. Someone once said, “it’s not a matter of what’s happened to you, but rather how you respond to what’s happened.” It’s important to note here, there is a distinct difference between a response and a reaction. A reaction is “a feeling experienced in response to a situation or event.” Reactions are often quick, emotion filled responses. A response, on the other hand, involves more reason. It is a thoughtful, more appropriate answer to a certain situation.  Worry and anxiety will create the negative attitude and the inability to properly view the situation.  It creates a cloudy view.  In doing so, we are unable to properly asses the situation and take the necessary steps to correct it.

WHAT TO DO

So how does one keep a positive attitude and maintain their sanity in an uncertain environment?  I think the answer is easy, but the reality is hard.  As a person of faith, I personally look for my strength through my Lord, Jesus Christ.

However, I supplement my faith through these six (7) practical principles;

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  1. STOP, What just happened? I get an email.  There have been personnel changes.  Your phone rings, informing you of something negative. Things are going downhill fast. You’re in a tail spin, making reactive decisions that, unfortunately, compound the problem.  Things are said, actions are taken and regret begins to set in.  What do you do?  Take some time to just step back from the problem and think. This will enable you to rationally deal with the issue at hand, instead of emotionally reacting. Just remember, you don’t have to do anything.
  2. When things go in a direction I didn’t expect, I turn to prayer.  Prayer creates a mindset of humbleness.  Worry and anxiety are turned over to him. I am reminded the circumstances are out my control, why worry and be concerned?
  3. Stick with your goal. Regardless of the situation, stick with your goal and what you know. When trouble hits, it tends to steer our focus off from where it should be. When a pilot encounters trouble, they immediately move into a systematic process to try and solve the problem.  However, they are focused on the goal of landing the plane safely. If they lost sight of their goal, disaster would certainly be imminent. One of the best things to do is to write out your goal(s).  Write out what steps are needed to achieving them.
  4. Analyze and Identify a solution. Sticking with the example above. The pilot will analyze the problems and determine the best solutions.  He/she is not sitting idly by, but rather analyzing the problem and aggressively identifying solutions and next steps.
  5. Surround yourself with encouragement. We all need encouragement.  Especially in a time when situations don’t go our way.  I’ve learned if I continue to dwell on the negative, worry will begin to take over creating a slippery slope downward.  My attitude changes and I have a negative affect on all.  When our backs are against the wall, we must surround ourselves with those who love and care for us and who will encourage our next move.  I look to the scriptures for my encouragement and seek out the wisdom of those I trust.  The book of Psalms has always been a source of encouragement.
  6. Find the good. Count your blessings.  I have a new grand daughter.  My wife and I are a month from our 30th wedding Anniversary.  Things are great.  However, the negative began to creep in.  Was I next? What would we do?  My thoughts began to run wild.  I enjoy my job and my life.  How would it be without it? My thoughts controlled my analysis  I began to panic somewhat.  I immediately stopped myself and focused on the good things.  I have been here before. In 2008, I lost my job.  I was weeks from loosing my house.  I made it through that.  Spend time dwelling on the good things about your life or career instead of the problems. There is an old childhood song that says, “Count your blessings—name them one by one.” That’s great advice! Let your positive attitude develop from within as well as from without. This makes all the difference!
  7. This isn’t forever.“This too shall pass” is a common saying I typically hear from people in difficult situations.   Remember that difficult times are only a season.  Some are longer than others, however it is a season.  We all go through them.  Teddy Roosevelt said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”  There will be a future where circumstances will change and you will be on top of the mountain instead of down in the valley.

First Sun Light over Mountain Valley - Panorama.  Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

I hope none of you will ever go through anything negative or experience uncertain times.  Unfortunately the reality is you will.  We live in uncertain times.  It is becoming the norm.  There will always be upheaval in life. This will create worry and anxiety and have a negative affect on our attitudes. However, how we handle these times and our reactions will determine the outcome with others. A good attitude in difficult times will encourage others.

Remember to STOP, PRAY, STICK , REFLECT, ANALYZE and IDENTIFY SOLUTIONS, SURROUND AND REMEMBER, THIS ISN’T FOREVER!

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