Sunday, July 17, 2011

Think Neutral

I remember this workshop from the 2008 NetIP conference called - the Laughing Club. It was led by a Boston based Entrepreneur Sushil Bhatia. I remember one of the things he emphasized - called 'Think Neutral.'

The reason that I remembered that was because of a book that I am reading called 'Happiness at Work: Be Resilient, Motivated, and Successful - No Matter What' by Srikumar Rao, who teaches the Personal Mastery course at Columbia Business School. Dr. Rao first talks about the pitfalls of conventional wisdom i.e. positive thinking. We are always taught that we must think positive, and then the positive things will happen to us. But this pressure to think positive adds stress to our lives. Every time we have to force ourselves to look at a negative thing with a positive perspective, which is stressful, and uses our mental energy.

Dr. Rao presents an alternative - just stop using the label bad and good, or positive and negative. It is actually very hard to judge whether something is positive or negative until much further in the future. For example, let's say you are an entrepreneur and an investor decided not to fund your startup. It could be negative, because you don't have the funds you want. But it might be positive for several reasons; one it might give you a chance to fix the reasons why you are not getting funded. Or this investor wasn't the right one for your startup. Or you figure out how to make things work for now and three months later get funded at a much higher valuation.

The point is, we don't really know if its positive or negative. So let's stop using these labels, and instead, think neutral.Observe what happens to you but do not get emotionally swayed. Don't lose your sense of peace. Harder said than done, but let's atleast try.

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