When things start to go South, it’s easy to tell everyone to stay positive. But to actually do so takes a more intentional approach. When things aren’t going well you are surrounded by frustration and negativity. It’s the nature of adversity. You have to aggressively seek out positivity.

You have to do more than just “stay positive.” Surround yourself with positive people. Shut down any negative talk or feeling sorry for yourself immediately. Perhaps you can give your team a little time to mourn, to feel bad, to flush out the bad feelings. But in a short period when it’s time to get back to work, the negativity has to be gone.

Celebrate small victories every day. Little things that people in your organization are doing to make you better – even some things that are common and expected. Make sure everybody knows about them and celebrates them. Here is what we are doing to get better, and we should be proud of it. Go out of your way to celebrate small, daily wins when the chips are down.

When people ask how they can help, the first thing you can say to anyone is “Only speak in positive tones about our organization.” That’s how people can help. Speak positively about the team, the mission, the people, regardless of the tough times that are in front of you.

Train your people to talk about what you are going to do moving forward, not about what happened to you. Once you’ve analyzed what went wrong, get over it. Talking about what happened and continuing to dissect it only keeps you in a negative frame of mind.

There is a lot of research done on what is called the “Illusory Truth” effect, which essentially says that if you hear something stated to you consistently you start to believe it – EVEN if you know it’s not true. Think about that for a second. If you know it isn’t true, but people keep telling you something, you start to believe it. That should tell you a lot about the power of your mind.

Have you ever heard anyone say “It’s hard to beat a team three times,” in the same year? You hear it in basketball and football all the time. You beat a team twice, and now you have to face them in a conference tournament. The prevailing mentality is it’s a tough challenge, beating the same team three times.

Except that it isn’t true. Over a 10-year period in college basketball, when teams played three times, the team that won the first two games also won the third game 73% of the time. It actually isn’t that hard to beat a team three times. The same goes for NFL football. But, we hear it so often we think it is true.

If you continue to have dialogue around “We stink, we just aren’t very good right now,” or “We just can’t get out of our own way,” you will start to believe it. And so will everyone around you. It’s a difficult challenge, because when you are struggling you also have to be realistic about your situation to get better. But constantly repeating negative messages is only going to make you worse.

When adversity strikes, aggressively seek positivity. It’s more than just staying positive. Put a plan in place, surround yourself with positive people, celebrate small successes, and stamp out negativity. Actively seek positivity to give your team the best chance to turn things around.

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