How to Stay Positive… When the Boss Isn’t

Positive-energy-chalkboard-JON GORDONI speak to a lot of organizations on the importance of positive leadership and the benefits of building a positive culture that fuels performance. Yet, the most common question I receive after my talk is: “Jon, this makes so much sense but my boss isn’t that kind of leader/manager. So how do I stay positive when my boss isn’t?” It’s a question I know well. I remember when I worked in business development during the boom and bust. I had a very negative boss and one day I made a few decisions that changed everything. The Energy Bus wasn’t even a thought in my mind yet, but looking back I was already putting the principles into action.

Here are few suggestions that I hope will help you, your team and maybe even your boss.

1. Make Your Bus Great – You may not be the leader of your organization. You may not be driving the “big bus.” But you can decide to make your bus great. Every day just focus on being the best you can be and bring out the best in others, tuning out everything else. Tune out the negativity. Tune out the comments. Tune out anything you can’t control. You can’t drive anyone else’s bus. Just drive your bus and make it a great ride.

2. Your Positive Energy Must be Greater than All of the Negativity – In the book Power vs Force, author David Hawkins, MD, shares research that 80 percent of the population vibrates to a negative frequency. The fact is negativity is all around us. It’s not just your boss. It’s everywhere. You must remember that your positive energy must be greater than all the negativity. As country wisdom suggests, “Never wrestle with a pig because you’ll both get dirty… and the pig likes it.” Instead, stay above the fray. Positive energy is much more powerful than negative energy. If you stay positive, the negativity can’t touch you.

3. Live it, Breathe it, Share it – Walt Whitman said we convince by our presence. If you truly focus on being positive and sharing it in an authentic and sincere way then you will do a lot of convincing. Your boss will sense something different in you and they will change the way they behave towards you. They may even ask what’s changed in your life.

4. Invite Your Boss on Your Bus – Give your boss The Energy Bus or another book on positive leadership. I’ve received countless emails from leaders who received The Energy Bus from their employees and it changed the way they lead. Best of all, the leader then invited the rest of the company on the bus. So don’t think you can’t change your situation or organization. You can. I’m convinced that very few people want to be negative. Most people are negative because of stress, busyness, and fear. Most people just need a wake-up call to break out of their rut. Decide to be a beacon of light that shines on others. You’ll be amazed at what happens.

5. If Your Boss Doesn’t Change, You Can – If all else fails then you have a choice. You can decide to stay positive and outlast your boss knowing that truth shines through and eventually a negative boss won’t last – ultimately their team will fall apart, results will suffer and they will be asked off the bus. Or you can decide to change your job. A lot of people do this and that’s why the best cultures that focus on positive leadership attract the best employees. Whatever you do, however, don’t allow a negative boss or colleague to get you down. With 80 percent of the population being negative, we need positive powerful people like you to offset the negativity.

Have you successfully dealt with a negative boss? What did you do? Have you helped your boss become more positive? What did you do?

Jon Gordon

Jon Gordon

Jon Gordon's best-selling books and talks have inspired readers and audiences around the world. His principles have been put to the test by numerous NFL, NBA, MLB coaches and teams, Fortune 500 companies, school districts, hospitals and non-profits. Learn more about Jon at his website.

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