August 2016

Making the Negative Positive

Turn Straw into Gold

The title for this month should really be 'The Seeming Negative,' as the following good luck, bad luck story reveals:

There was once a farmer who had one son and one horse. The boy left the corral gate open and the stallion took off.
The villagers came to the farmer and said, “Old man, what bad luck you have.”
The old man responded, “Good luck, bad luck, nobody knows for sure.”
A few days later, the stallion returned with a herd of mares. They ran into the corral and the boy closed the gate.
The villagers returned and said, “Old man. What good luck you have.”
The old man responded, “Good luck, bad luck, nobody knows for sure.”
The boy was 'breaking' the horses and broke his leg. A war broke out in the nearby territory. All the boys in the village went to war except the boy with the broken leg.
The villagers came again and said, “Old man. What good luck you have.”
The old man replied, “Good luck, bad luck, nobody knows for sure.”

If we could remember this good luck, bad luck story while the 'bad' things are happening, we would have less pain.

Let's look in on Sally and Donna and see what how their perspectives affect their lives.


We left Sally as she and Larry are going to dinner to continue doing the relationship repair that she was attempting on her sister's recommendation. They arrive at the restaurant and are seated at a quiet table in a corner.

“I like it so much more when we're getting along,” Sally says. “I wish you would always be like this.”

“I like it too,” Larry responds. “It's much nicer when you're not mad at me.”

“Well, I'm only mad at you when you disregard me and are selfish and pig headed,” Sally retorts.

“Now Sally,” Larry begins, “don't go throwing grenades or we'll never make it through dinner.”

“Sorry,” Sally mumbles. “But you do get pig headed!”

“Sally, do you want us to have a nice dinner or are you determined to pick another fight?” Larry asks.

“I do want to have a nice dinner,” Sally spits back. “But I also want to know if you'll really back me up and move if necessary. If you would only tell me that you'll do that, I'll relax and everything will be good.”

“I just don't even want to respond to that,” Larry says. “If we're supposed to be having a nice dinner together, you are not helping the cause. Can we just put this topic away for the night and pick it up tomorrow?”

“I suppose so,” Sally concedes. “But I just can't seem to get my mind off of it. I really do want to move and I want you to come with me. If I stay here, I'm doomed. Do you really want me to be depressed all the time? I don't think you would like that.”

“Your persistence knows no bounds,” Larry says, shaking his head. “I refuse to talk about this anymore tonight.”

With that, Larry calls over the waiter and asks what the specials are for the evening.

In the meantime, let's find out how Donna is doing.

We left Donna immediately after she received a positive response from her on-boarding coach about working with Emily. She is feeling optimistic about Emily's future and really good about her ability to support Emily.

As Donna is going through her email, she receives an instant message (IM) from her boss, Loren, asking if she has some time right now. Donna replies that she does and the two women set up a meeting.

“It's great that you could meet at such short notice,” Loren says to open the meeting. “I'm in a predicament and I'm hoping you can help me. The vacancy that was created when Sally left in Tom Biente's division is top priority. Tom doesn't have anyone who he thinks is ready to step in. I'm thinking you might since you have so many great people. Who could you spare, if only for several months while we work to fill the position?”

“Wow,” Donna responds. “First, I'm grateful that you think so highly of my folks. I'm sure they'll feel really good hearing this. But the idea of letting any of them go right now does not seem so good. Not at all. But, give me a moment to wrap my brain around it and let me think about it. Let me sit with this and take it back to the team and see what we can come up with. I'm sure someone will be excited about taking it on, as it means learning something new and stretching. We'll see. I don't know how they'll deal with it though. All the projects are in the middle of preparing for important reviews, so I know it will put stress on them to have any of the senior members leave. And that position will definitely require a senior member.”

“Absolutely,” Loren agrees. “There are really only a few people who have the depth of management experience who I think could step in. Isn't that right?”

“Yes, for sure,” Donna agrees. “And they are each integral to their projects. But, let me see what they say. I think it is a great developmental opportunity. I'll check with Lakir first, as I think he is the best suited and ARCTIC is in pretty good shape. I'll let you know as soon as I speak with him. I'm sure he'll have lots of questions for you.”

“Donna, you are the best!” Loren exclaims. “I thought I could count on you. You have a way of making everything work out without drama. I appreciate that so much. Thanks.”
The two women spend a few minutes chatting and then part ways to continue on with their day.


Looking through the lens of perspectivizing, or making the negative positive, there is no contest—Donna comes out on top.

Sally, sadly, is like a dog with a bone and has not really integrated her sister Louise's advice. She still believes that Larry is betraying her by not wanting to move immediately so that she can run away. She's having such a hard time letting go of her position that she truly has no empathy for Larry.

Donna, on the other hand, reacts to Loren's initial request negatively but is quite resilient. Very quickly, she begins to look at the request as an opportunity and something positive. Definitely, Donna exemplifies someone who is making the seeming negative something positive.

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