Glass half-full? Business getting you down? Here’s why losing your optimism in business might be holding you back.
Unlike many populist business articles, I believe that there are pretty much any personality traits can be ideal for entrepreneurship. That is to say, almost all personality traits can work, provided that you frame them in the right way and know yourself so that you can balance out your biases. There is however, one exception to the rule. One trait that is mandatory for success… and that trait is OPTIMISM.
Why Optimism in Business is so Important
Think about your own buying behaviour. Which types of businesses do you choose to spend your money with? Chances are they’re the ones that make you feel positive about the experience.
Your customers are no different. No-one wants to buy from someone who’s negative. No-one wants to get into a business relationship with someone who constantly points out problems. And no-one wants to spend time with people that make them feel worse.
People are looking for solutions, not problems.
To break it down… Optimism is needed for sales, and sales is a HUGE part of (just about) every business.
Whether you need to inspire your team, sell yourself online, recruit top performers, or actually do phone or in-person selling, sales is a big part of being in business. Yes, you can add your own flavour to this (you don’t need to become a used car salesperson!), but you still have something you’re selling. And like it or not, you’ll be more successful if you’re more optimistic.
How Can You Become More Optimistic in Business?
There’s lots of advice already written about habits that can make you more optimistic or ways to train your brain to become more optimistic, but for me, what works is a few simple things;
1) Firstly, Get Enough Rest
When we’re tired, most of us develop some level of crankiness. Without enough sleep, it’s really hard to be positive and see the good in situations. So rather than fight your own biology, do your business a favour and get a full nights sleep for two or three nights.
2) Practise Gratitude
I can hear your thoughts; “wait, I thought this was about business, not woo woo!” Yes, but getting your mind right will help your business and practising gratitude really helps your mindset.
If you’ve got a roof over your head, you’ve got plenty to be grateful for – but the exercise is in getting your mind to recognise more of those things that are going right for you.
The way I like to do this is to write down 3 things I’m grateful for before going to bed. They might be big things or they might be trivial little things. But the practise is in the noticing. Try it for a week – you’ll see what I mean.
3) Get Back to the Vision for your Business
Do you remember why you started your business? In the past, what has made you feel motivated about being in business? If you haven’t already done this, create a business vision statement now (it’s easy!).
Your vision statement should be something that you can keep referring back to – both keep your business on track, and to keep you motivated.
4) Empathise With Your Customers
Often when people lose their optimism in business, it’s largely due to a few bad customers. There’s no doubt that some customers are difficult to deal with, and some customers probably shouldn’t be your customers! But there’s also a good chance that something has caused you to lose your ability to connect and understand your customers.
Instead of taking on a cold-war with all of your customers, try empathising instead.
Take one customer who’s being difficult and really try to empathise with them. Maybe they’re grumpy because they’ve had something horrible go wrong. Maybe they’re not well. Maybe they’ve got problems at home. Maybe they really don’t have enough money to do what you’re recommending. Maybe their spouse is giving them a hard time over this issue. Maybe you remind them of someone from their past. Really imagine some of these scenarios – think about how you would feel and what you would do in their situation.
The truth is that we never really know what is going on with other people.
A lot of the time, problems are actually caused by misunderstandings (which can be fixed by better communication on our part). Next time you’re frustrated by a client situation, assume the best in them and relate to them as you’d want someone relating to you.
5) Try On a Positive Persona
This is a bit of a kooky one, but if being optimistic isn’t coming naturally for you at the moment, think of someone you know who’s naturally positive and try walking in their shoes. How would they greet other people? How would they walk? How would they phrase their emails? How would they solve problems with customers or with their team?
Even though it might initially feel like you’re faking it, when you bring good energy to situations, other people will often respond in a much better way.
6) Find a Positivity Trigger
Some people use a trigger to remind them to be optimistic. For example, each time they walk through a doorway they think about bringing positive energy into the room. Other people might set an alarm on their phone to go off at certain times of the day.
Think about the situations you most need to have a positivity boost and what might make a good trigger.
7) Reframe the Situation
Even if you’re in bad situation, try finding a better way to look at it. There’s always a different take or a silver lining you can find. I don’t mean to minimise problems, but the situation is the same whether you look at it through a negative lens or choose to look at it more positively.
Someone once told me that in business, your problems never disappear. That’s what business is about – solving problems. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to deal with better problems over time, but don’t expect them to go away.
Let’s face it, most of the problems we deal with are actually pretty trivial in the big scheme of things. If we can get to a point where we recognise that we’re actually lucky to be given these problems to deal with, we’ll be in a much better place.
If you’ve lost your optimism, try to find a way to fall back in love with your business. Or at the very least, stop hating your business!
Being an optimistic in business is both a personality trait that might come naturally, but also it’s a skill and a habit that you can develop. Don’t just succumb to a bad mood, put on those rose colored glasses and get smiling! With more positivity and optimism, you’ll probably find that things start going better.