Do the Positive; Avoid the Negative

Amy's horse Poppy

As a little girl I dreamed of owning a horse but, alas, my parents did not share my dream. I was lucky enough to grow up near a horse farm, so I was able to be around horses as a child.  I always thought someday I would own a horse; but as I became an adult,  my priority was working and raising kids so I never seemed to get around to taking the time to own a horse.

Now as a forty-five year old woman, it is finally that someday and I am living that little girl dream with my horse Poppy. Because it has been such a long time since I had ridden a horse, I have hired a riding instructor, Lori. During my horseback riding lessons I am often surprised to hear Lori coaching me on  the same items that I work with my corporate coaching clients.

Just last week she instructed me to make my horse Poppy trot whenever he was behaving poorly. You see every time Poppy and I passed the barn door he would pull on the reigns and act spooky. Lori coached me to make Poppy focus on some positive behavior so he won’t think so much about what is scaring him; make him trot and he will forget about what is making him nervous and stop his negative behavior of pulling on the reigns!

Earlier that very day I had said something very similar to a coaching client. My client, an accomplished salesperson, was working on cracking a tough account.  She was worried because this account had issues with a product she had sold them earlier in the year.  As we were preparing for her sales visit, she mentioned that when she gets nervous she tends to talk a great deal.  She was concerned because she knew she would be nervous on this visit. So I asked her, what is the opposite of talking too much? She said listening well. I asked her what things does she do when she listens well. She said I ask questions and take notes. We then made an elaborate question guide and note-taking instrument. I told her to focus on the doing the positive (listening) versus the negative (talking to much)!

It is a simple lesson, really, when we put energy into what we do want to have happen because it takes the energy away from what we don’t want to have happen. This is true for Poppy as well as for all of us!

My question to all of you is what do you put energy into? Is there anything negative you are doing that you could avoid by putting energy into the positive?



3 Responses to Do the Positive; Avoid the Negative

  1. Amy - loved how you used Poppy to illustrate a simple lesson of focusing on the positive rather than the negative. Sometimes it’s just too easy to get caught up in the glass half-full syndrome and forget to see the beauty and opportunity all around us!

  2. Great story, great message. If only we could try to make things simplier rather than more complicated, what an easier world it would be. I just used a similar strategy to move from frustration to compassion in a relationship. Really works.

  3. How timely for me! I was just getting after myself about being positive, when minutes later I saw Jane Perdue’s link to this post. Great insight on filling up the space in our minds with the positive behaviors we want instead of the negative behaviors we don’t. Thanks!

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