The positive mindset – to broaden your view

Now that we’ve looked at some models and mental maps, let’s compare the conventional mental map of “control and constraint” with the mindset of positive possibilities.

As the world develops, we need to become bilingual to broaden our response repertory and to benefit from both maps. We can let the maps work together as allies to create a positive organization where people and performance thrive.

Even though the conventional map can look “backward” and less desirable to progressive people who can’t wait to see a better future – the list below is not meant to degrade conventional thinking. This conventional map has served us well: there is a reason this way of thinking became common sense!

We still need to see and deal with problems, we sometimes may need our ego to battle through nasty situations, there’s nothing wrong with a well-structured and fair hierarchy, it may pay off to be cautious at first, in some cases, there is one answer and not multiple, and so on.

I see people and situations as they are - and I can see their positive potential Click To Tweet

But we also want to open up to the positive mindset of possibilities to add more options to our future and develop ourselves and our organizations. Our context is rapidly changing – and an updated map will ease our collective journey.

To some, the positive map of possibilities looks “naive” and overly optimistic and for dreamers. People who have achieved success thanks to conventional thinking, or on the contrary, who have been damaged or disappointed in the no-nonsense workplaces of the twentieth century may discard these positive possibilities right away. “That’s not how the world works!”


It’s like the process of “presencing” that Otto Scharmer describes in Theory U. Presencing serves to deeply understand our current reality, and for that, we need to suspend the voice of judgment, the voice of cynicism, and the voice of fear.
We need to see with fresh eyes, sense all kinds of information, and let go of our predefined plans. Then we might be able to fathom the current situation and its potential – and decide what to do next.

The point is: both/and. This is the most important and maybe the hardest lesson for many of us as we were raised in either/or thinking. We were taught there is one correct answer and that actions are right or wrong. We are not used to the discomfort of ambiguity. Our brains just want an answer to a question. We don’t like uncertainty and we’ll keep searching for something definite. Our brains release endorphins upon “closure”, or task accomplishment.

Yet, there are many angles to one situation and many possible outcomes. We can train ourselves to hold opposites and paradoxes in our minds. We can explore potential and not feel overwhelmed or threatened. We can train ourselves to sit calmly with ambiguity and uncertainty.
We can savor the present moment, mindfully observing it. We can learn not to define it as good or bad, or see it as a step of the career stairs you’re ascending. We can learn to simply let this moment, this situation be.

The present is like that coin, with both heads and tails present at the same time even if you don’t see them at once. Moreover, the present is a multi-faceted diamond. The positive map might help you see its glistening potential.

In both maps, I’ve added personal assumptions and beliefs that people may hold. This doesn’t mean that all people working in a hierarchy will respond from their Ego. Nor does it mean that all self-organizing professionals trust everyone and are operating from their Best Selves all the time.

The maps serve to clarify by contrast two different world views in a rather black-and-white way – the reality will be more nuanced with many different shades of gray.

Beliefs and Behaviors

Here goes, a list of some beliefs and behaviors from both maps: (the full list is available for paying members as soon as the next Positive Power Book PDF is ready).

Reality can be known by science – there is one truth – and one correct answer.
Reality can’t be completely known – there are multiple truths – and several answers.

Work is a necessity, it doesn’t have to be fun, and most people can’t handle autonomy and responsibility.
Work can be an opportunity to develop yourself and contribute to the world, and most people prefer autonomy and responsibility.

There is never enough – How can I get by with less than expected? – I am competing for scarce resources.
There is always more where that came from – How can I give more than expected? – I am collaborating and sharing resources.

The organization is a static top-down pyramid, a hierarchy of positions.
The organization is a dynamic network of relationships in all directions.

Leadership means a position of authority and directing others.
Leadership means to influence, regardless of authority or position.

Motivation follows instruction, rewards, and punishments.
Motivation follows purpose, inspiration, and intrinsic rewards.

Motivation follows purpose, inspiration, intrinsic rewards Click To Tweet

I take it personally, responding from Ego.
I take it as information, responding from my best potential Self.

Change is conceived at the top and rolled out top-down in the system.
Change may emerge and/or be driven from anywhere within the system.

I focus on what goes wrong and what challenges individuals and organizations.
I focus on what goes well and what elevates individuals and organizations.

I see people and situations as they are.
I see people and situations as they are – and I can see their positive potential.

Now, what do you think? I can see for myself that I cherish elements from both mental maps. It may be tempting to read these lists and reject one and embrace the other. But, as discussed, your actual behavior may be based on both. And that is just fine.
When you experience a dilemma when it’s time to make a decision, which map guides you? Looking back at important events or decisions, which was your guidance? How can you keep both maps in the back of your mind?
Observe yourself for some time. If you decline offers, if you start new things, whatever you decide – can you find the corresponding mental map behind your action?

This is book post #28 – ME

Here‘s the earlier post
Here‘s the next post

If you’re confused – please start with post #1 or check the Positive Power overview and read the Positive Agent Manifesto.

Leaders, employees, consultants, citizens – everyone can make a positive difference from any position, without needing permission or resources from others. This blog will help you see positive possibilities and (re)claim your positive agency. Unstuck yourself and engage others via your interaction and actions. Transform into a positive organization where people and performance thrive.

I’m blogging my next book: “Positive Power at Work – How to make a positive difference from any position.” Your feedback is appreciated!

You can help me by liking, sharing, and commenting.

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