What are you out to prove?

Being a leader means adopting a certain point of view about people, circumstances, opportunities and challenges. It means being oriented around perspectives and conversations that promote and generate new possibilities and effective action, rather than cynicism, resignation and excuses. It means always being the champion for “what’s possible” and “how can we make it work” rather than “why we can’t…” and “why it won’t work…”.

Every point of view is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Have you ever noticed that when you have a point of view that something isn’t possible you always gather evidence and proof of your circumstances and environment to support and prove that point of view? And, if you change our mind, even 180 degrees, and adopt a different point of view, you will immediately find new evidence and proof in the exact same environment and circumstances for your new point of view?

If you have a strong point of view that one of your team members is lazy and uncommitted I am sure you would have a lot of data points to prove it; things like: he keeps coming to work late and leaving early, he seems distracted most of the time and his output is not very good compared to his peers. However, if you learn that this person is going through a major personal tragedy in his life – he lost his significant other to cancer and another family member is unwell – that new information may completely change your mind. Suddenly, you have a new sense of empathy and compassion for your team member. In fact, you now reflect on recent events in a completely new light. Perhaps he isn’t lazy at all, he is just temporarily immobilized. Anyone in his shoes would behave the same…

With every thought, comment and conversation we are constantly promoting and proving one point of view or another. Sometimes we do it consciously, but most of the time we are not aware of doing it at all.

If you have a negative or cynical point of view about an area that is important to you, you may have the point of view, something like: “I won’t get what I want…“, “Things don’t work out smoothly and amazingly in life, at least not for me…” and “Some people are lucky, just not me…“. Perhaps without realizing it, you would constantly be promoting and out to prove that point of view. It will be reflected in your thoughts, comments and conversations.

Every time things don’t work out you may say or imply things like “you see, I knew it.” or “you see I told you so.” And, if someone criticizes you, you may come back with “I am not negative, I am just being realistic!”. This is a common rationalization and justification for cynical people. And, every time something great does happen, you may view it as a “one-off” or something to be “cautiously optimistic” about.

However, you can stand for a drastically different point of view, such as: “Life works and I can and will have what I want in my life, with no compromises…”. In this mindset, your life will be oriented around proving that point of view. Every time something great happens to you, it will serve as evidence – “you see, life works for me…”. Every time something doesn’t work and you don’t get what you want you will view it as a “glitch” or a “one-off.” You will try to learn something worthwhile from the mishap to validate and strengthen your point of view.

We often say “I can’t believe what I see“. But, in fact, we don’t believe or disbelieve what we see. We see what we believe or disbelieve. We don’t really see with our eyes, we see with our point of view. That’s why two people can participate in the same “physical” circumstance or situation and experience it drastically differently, often contradicting.

One of my clients (the CEO of a small but ambitious Marketing company) took on a significant change initiative to elevate his company’s brand, client base and market share from sixth to third in his marketplace. After a lot of hard work, his team lost a mega bid after making it to the final shortlist of two companies out of eight. While many of his team members were upset and discouraged by the loss, the CEO felt extremely proud and encouraged by the fact that for the first time his team made it that far in such a lucrative opportunity. For him, the fact that his team made it to the top two, even though they lost at the end, only signified proof that they were in fact on track to achieve their goal.

If you accept the premise that you are constantly out to proving your points of view, and therefore your points of view are always self-fulfilling prophecies, you have a choice about what point of view you will promote in your comments and conversations.

Contrary to what many people may think there are no “right”, “true” or “correct” points of view. There are only “empowering” or “disempowering” ones; points of view that enable more possibilities, ideas and dreams, and ones that shut down possibilities, ideas and dreams, and explain and justify why these can’t and won’t come true.

I recommend building a life that reflects the point of view: “I am going to have it all“.

I can tell you from experience that being out to prove that things work is much more exciting than proving that they don’t.

What point of view are YOU out to prove in your life?  

Founder and President of Quantum Performance Inc., a management consulting firm specializing in generating total alignment and engagement in organizations.

His work has encompassed a broad range of industries including banking, telecommunications, manufacturing, entertainment, real estate, retail, startups and non-profits.

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