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Leadership: The Power of a Positive Attitude

By Chris Freddo on January 29, 2007

Current economic conditions and the implications of 9/11 have combined to create a pessimistic business climate in many areas of the printing industry, at least in the short term. Such a climate breeds considerable uncertainty and anxiety regarding a business' future growth and success. During the past few years, the printing industry has experienced difficult times. Overseas competition, rising production costs, and overcapacity are just some of the challenges facing the industry today. How should you react when facing these pressures and negativity? More and more research shows that how you think determines how well you will deal with tough issues that come your way.

Learning to handle defeat and setback is a key factor in the success of your career. Absolutely no printing business goes through its life without setbacks. The secret is to learn from mistakes and spend as little time as possible lamenting them. When a setback hits, your first reaction is to become emotionally upset-often so much so that you fail to learn the lesson that every defeat contains.

Lessons from the Sky

Printing industry executives can learn a valuable lesson from another familiar industry: air travel. Everyone knows the often-quoted fact that air traffic is the safest form of long distance travel; however, you also all know that air accidents occur. How the airlines and FAA react to these unfortunate accidents is what printers could stand to learn from. Teams of experts piece together the causes of the accident and months of intensive study are devoted to finding solutions to any mistakes that may have been made so similar accidents do not occur in the future. The result is that even though more flights are flying into more airports, the safety record of the airlines continues to improve.

There are countless examples in the printing industry of the benefits of this approach to setbacks. The message is clear: before discouragement sets in, before your negative channels take over, examine your situation. Look at the setback as objectively as you can. Learn from your mistakes. Have the courage to face your setbacks, and the resolve to do something about them. Make up your mind to learn something from every setback.

It is not easy to close out your emotions when things are not going well. Remember that defeat is a state of mind. One of the best tools to use against negative emotions and thoughts that go along with setbacks is persistence.

The American Inventor

If you persevere and continue to believe in yourself, your business model, and your people, you can overcome any obstacle. The next time you experience difficulties or a setback of some kind in your printing company, think of Thomas Edison. Thomas Edison is credited with being one of America's most persistent scientists and inventors. He conducted literally thousands of experiments before he perfected the electric light bulb. He tried out almost every substance known to science before he hit on the one that would work for his light bulb's filaments. Thomas Edison combined persistence with experimentation. He persisted in his goal to develop a working electrical light, but he made that persistence pay off by blending it with experiments. When one idea failed to bear fruit, he backed off, examined his setbacks, and tried again with something different. Persistence, blended with experimentation, yields success.

Thoughts are magnetic. As soon as you tell yourself that you are beaten and negative thoughts are drafted, then each of these thoughts helps convince you that you are wiped. Instead, believe that there is a way to solve any problem. Positive thoughts will flood your mind to help you find the solution. It is the belief that there is a way that is important. You are what you think you are. By managing your thoughts, you can take a large step toward success.

Here is another anecdote: Two young men, born 18 months apart, had a father who spent a lot of time in prison for robbing and stealing. A study was conducted on young men in America, and these two men were interviewed because of how they were born and raised. When one of these men was interviewed, he was in prison, as well, for stealing. The reporter asked, "How did you end up this way?" He responded, "Well just look at my father, what did you expect?" The other man interviewed was working in a hospital, on his internship to become a doctor and the reporter asked him the same question, "How did you end up this way?" The man responded, "Well just look at my father, what did you expect?" This exemplifies the power of positive thinking.

Another article, "Killed by 30 years of Thought," about tennis star Jem Gilbert, teaches much of the same. When Jem was a little girl, she went with her mother to the dentist. The mother, while being operated on by the dentist, had a heart attack and died in the dentist's chair. From that day on, Jem would not go to the dentist.

While the dentist had nothing to do with her mother's death, as it was her bad heart that was the cause, for 30 years, Jem avoided the dentist because she believed that as soon as she went, she would have a heart attack and die. Finally, her teeth got so bad that she had to go to the dentist. She brought along her minister, doctor, best friend, and sister. The minute the dentist put that drill to her teeth, she died of a heart attack. The obituary read, "She died of 30 years of thought-she died of 30 years of the contemplation of disaster." While this is an extreme case, examine your own life. What are you thinking now? What have you been contemplating? How you respond to them defines your character, the quality of your life, and how successful you will be in your career.

Therefore, while the current economic conditions and the implications of 9/11 have combined to create some pessimism in the printing industry, how you react can greatly affect the outcome. Will you be positive during tough times or will you cave in to the challenges? The choice is yours.

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