Why You Shouldn’t Focus On The Positive And Forget The Negative

by Flip Flippen on Sep 23, 2023


00:23 Wherever You Go, There You Are
00:56 Why Don’t We Just Focus On The Positive And Forget The Negatives?
01:54 What If You Were Really Good At Throwing A Baseball?
03:06 You Don’t Want The Fewest Constraints, You Want The Least Impacting
04:03 A Special Invitation For Leaders

Here’s Law 3: Our Personal Constraints Play Themselves Out in Every Area of Our Lives

You may have heard the phrase, “Wherever you go, there you are.” This is true for our constraints, as well; they go wherever we go. The point of recognizing this is not to condemn ourselves and our limitations but to more fully understand their impact. If you are difficult at work, odds are good that you are just as difficult at home.

Just like trying to run from your shadow, you can’t run from your constraints. Realize the impact they make, be open to feedback and be willing to address them.

In a speech recently, I was asked, “Why don’t we just focus on the positives and forget the negatives? I don’t like to think about the negatives so I think we should just focus on the good things that we do and try to do them better.” Well, that sounds good but the problem is that it doesn’t work very well. For one, it ignores the impact that our constraints have on those around us. We don’t live in isolation and believe me, just thinking about the positive will not take away the impact of the negative. A one-sided focus doesn’t work.

That’s really at the heart of the problem, because there is really only “one you.” And sooner or later, the rest of the picture is going to show up. That’s when it’s important that the picture be a complete picture and that it look like and act like it should. Focusing on the positives alone won’t give you that picture. In fact, it will really only give you a lopsided life.

Let’s say that you are really good at throwing a baseball, so good that you make it to the pros and become a superstar. Let’s also say that you make so much money throwing a baseball that you are about as risk free as a person can be. But you have this other side—a side that others don’t see that much and you don’t really want others to see it. Let’s say that side is tied to your ability to control your temper and your impulsiveness.

Now we have a problem. The reason we have a problem is that we know people like that. They are incredible at what they do and they are icons in their field. You see their names in the sports pages and financial pages a lot. You know them but you never really get to see them because they are rarely ever seen. Yet they are known to everyone. They are people with a few personal constraints but those constraints are devastating no matter how great their strengths are.

The overall impact of your personal constraints will determine their significance in your life. You don’t want the fewest constraints, you want the least impacting. If you only have one personal constraint then you might have the fewest, but what if that constraint is that you destroy people due to your temper being uncontrolled…now, we have a problem.

Focusing on the good only or the strengths only or the talents only or the gifts only or anything only without mitigating personal constraints will not serve you well in life. I want to be balanced in my life and I want balance in every area if possible. Personal constraints will really wreck your life if you don’t tend to them, no matter how good you are in other areas. If you don’t believe me read the papers—they are full of people who don’t tend to both sides of their lives.