How optimism and positive expectation put you in control of your life

© 2009, Doug Davin and Diana Morris
[Featured Breakthrough Skill—High Possibility Thinking: Set great expectations]

What is it about positive people? They’re like success magnets. They always seem to be in the right place when the plum assignment or opportunity arises. When they’re not around, people talk about them in only the most flattering ways. Loyal friends and supportive coworkers surround them. When they make a mistake, even the people who bear the brunt of it are forgiving. And no matter what they ask for, you just want to say, “Sure thing!”

It would be great if we were all born positive success magnets, but the truth is most of us aren’t. We see the glass half empty. We replay the one mistake we made in the interview and forget the 20 things we did right. We focus on how far we still have to go to reach a goal instead of how far we’ve already come.

But this can change. If you weren’t born with a naturally sunny outlook, you can develop one. And it’s not difficult, though it does take determination to break some old habits and replace them with new ones. You start with the life-changing decision to stop letting yourself be bossed around by your feelings. Because while developing a more positive outlook isn’t difficult, it is impossible if you run feelings-first into every situation.

The monster manager
Feelings are like the worst manager you could ever have: indecisive, unpredictable, unreliable, and flighty. Will it be a good day or a bad day? Depends on how he feels. On Monday, he’s psyched about the week ahead. By Wednesday, after a few mishaps and frustrations, he blows up. Will he like your work? Depends on his mood. Will he give you the answers you need to finish the project due this week? Maybe...if he feels like it.

Sounds like a nightmare job, and it is. But if you’re letting yourself be bossed around by your own feelings, you’re actually working at this job. Your feelings will take you way up on Monday, and maybe way down on Tuesday. You’ll react positively on Wednesday to an idea because it feels right, and then on Thursday the same idea will seem unworkable, and you’ll wish you never agreed to try it. On Friday, you’ll sign up for an expensive course that sounds exciting, but when the day comes, you won’t show up for it because you don’t feel like going. You’ll fret for weeks about a meeting you dread but can’t avoid. You’ll be derailed for months by harsh criticism that you just can’t get over.

Up. Down. Up down. Up down. Up up. Down down down.


Jump off this rollercoaster. Stop asking your anger, embarrassment, fear, and goose bumps for advice and decide instead that you will respond to the people and pressures in your work life with positive expectation. Now, you’re free and fully in charge. You can choose to be hopeful and upbeat even when...

you just lost your job
the project was canceled
the client left
your sales are sliding
your idea got shot down

…because even though you don’t feel optimistic, you can still be optimistic. Some examples:

[Setback occurs]
- You lose a sale you worked on for six months to a competitor.
- A recruiter questions a six-month gap on your resume and then never calls you again.
- A senior leader or client tells you in the middle of your presentation to a room full of people that you’ve highlighted the wrong information.

If your goal is to...
[Achieve the breakthrough you’re after]

- Develop this type of clientele as a steady source of business.
- Get the job of your dreams.
- Be promoted into a leadership position with a team of direct reports and P&L responsibility.

Instead of...
[Reacting emotionally]
- Allowing yourself to think, “If I can’t close a sale after working on it for six months, I’m never going to tap this market.”
- Freezing up and thinking, “I’ll never find a better job because I lost so much time between jobs.”
- “Well, there goes my future."

You can choose to...
[Make conscious decisions based on optimism and positive expectation]
- “I believe I can excel in this high potential market. I learned a lot through from this experience. To find out more about this market, I will...”
- “I won’t let this be an issue. I’ll develop a quality answer to this question (‘I was freelancing, taking a course to improve a skill, raising children, caring for a parent, regrouping and thinking about the type of job I truly want, which is why I’m so very interested in this job...’).”
- “I’m glad I didn’t waste too much of the group’s time. Now I know what they truly needs to know. Because of this tough experience, I certainly have lots of motivation to do an excellent job on my next presentation for them.”

Pay attention to your confidence level when you deliberately choose to be optimistic in a tough situation. It shoots up instantly because any time you make a positive choice—any time you free yourself from the tyranny of your feelings, take control and steer your career or business in the direction of your dreams—you exercise real power. You may not be in control of the circumstances, but do you ever command the result.

Once and done
A good friend worked for an international chocolate company where teeming bowls of mouth-watering candy stood on almost every horizontal surface in the building. We met when her company became one of our clients. One day, as we sat in the conference room chowing down on the free chocolate, we noticed she never touched it. Not one delicious, velvety morsel. Ever. Why? It seemed like a such a wonderful perk to us—free candy, c’mon! “I decided when I took this job that I would never touch the candy,” she said. “And I never have. We all joke about our company version of the college freshman 10. Only we’re all older than that, so in our case it’s more like the freshman 15. I knew if I started eating candy, I’d regret it, so it was better to just not even go there.” And even though she worked there for six years, she never so much as touched the free candy—not even at the holiday parties. Now that’s a quality decision. Clear. Simple. Once and done. A decision made for the right reasons.

Challenge yourself to make a once-and-done quality decision to stop consulting your feelings when the going gets rough. Instead, deliberately choose optimism and positive expectation. Clear. Simple. Once and done. A decision that will change your life.

Learn more in our book, Step Out of the Box With a Bang! The Positive, Proactive, and Excuse-free Work Life. Get your copy at

Author's Bio: 

Doug Davin and Diana Morris are authors and coaches at, a professional self-improvement community and webstore. Their original resources—Rapid-Read™ Handbooks and Workbooks, free BTS QuickTools?, Breakthrough Coaching, Workshops, and Telesession calls—zero-in on seven Breakthrough Skills you need to reach the highest levels of success and enjoy your work—every day.

“You know you’ve got a great future ahead of you. We know it too, and we’re serious about helping you. Contact us at or call toll-free: 1-877-512-3400.” Also visit their site at

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