The Power of Positivity

We have recently gone through an exercise of redefining our values at Roberts & Cowling. We used to have the value of “Positivity” but that has since been replaced with the term “Feed the good wolf”.


After reading a book called “The Advantage” by Patrick Lencioni, we didn’t want to have generic values but something that the team wouldn’t forget and would really mean something. Feed the good wolf comes from a parable from the American Indians which is about feeding the positive thoughts and not the negative. Positivity is very powerful and tends to lift everyone up and yet it appears to me that majority of us default to the negative and concentrate on what went wrong in the day. It is more than normal to hear people talk about the one thing that went wrong over the 10 things that went right.


Before I carry on, I will say that I am not one for affirmations each morning. Not saying they don’t work, they’re just not for me. I do believe though that we should celebrate our wins and not be ashamed or nervous to tell people what we have done and achieved.


A prime example is a meeting I had with a couple last Friday. The couple who are long-standing clients met with me as we do every year. Two years ago, the wife had been diagnosed with breast cancer which would have been heart-breaking. Further, when they went to do the surgery, they discovered there was more of the disease than they had originally thought. Even worse, there was a secondary cancer hidden behind the first cancer that was an aggressive form and was life-threatening if not treated promptly. They were fortunate in that it was discovered as a result of the first diagnosis. She went through the surgery and the resulting chemotherapy. I met with them last year in October as usual to hear this story and was delighted that she had been given the all clear and was assessed as a very low risk of a re-occurrence which was great news. Through their son, I heard that while an extremely low chance last December it had unfortunately returned. I didn’t reach out to give them my best wishes as I don’t know them on a personal level. When they came in this year, I knew that it would be discussed and was hoping to hear that she had indeed recovered. The second time around it had been quite aggressive and got into the lymphatic system which resulted in the lymph nodes being removed from her left arm. This resulted in her having to wear a compression bandage and having to massage her arm every morning for over an hour. This sounds like an arduous task to many of us and the majority of people I would expect to be very unhappy. However, not this amazing lady. While she accepted that the odds that another recurrence was high compared to the first time, she was quite excited to spend time with the grandchildren and just live life. She was indeed quite positive, and it was incredibly infectious. I have always had a lot of time for this particular couple as they are always positive and warm. I did, however, think the circumstances surrounding the last few years would result in them being more subdued and understandably so, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. It was a truly inspirational meeting and I’ve since reflected on it many times.


I think it is very easy to focus on what we don’t have or how “unlucky” we have been in life. However, after this meeting it couldn’t have been more clear to me that we as a whole and leaders need to focus on the positive and grow from that; further it is likely that the people around you will feed off that and hopefully result in a situation where everyone feeds off everyone’s positivity and we are all feeding “the good wolf”.