In business, as in life, things don’t always go the way we plan. Some days are disappointing: the account you have worked so long and hard to land decides at the last minute to go with your competitor; the relationship you have worked so diligently to preserve goes south anyway; the promotion you know you deserve falls to someone else; someone you thought was a friend turns out to be a foe. You get the picture. In those moments, it’s easy for us to “lose it,” to fall apart. In these times, more than ever, we need a radical change of perspective or else negative thoughts and disappointment find a way to cloud our thinking and drag us into a dark place.
Decades ago IBM sales executives were trained in what the company used to call “gratitude course.” These were the brightest and most tenacious recruits selling multimillion dollar systems for the world’s most successful business technology provider of their time. During the training, the executives were asked to create a “happy folder.” There they would put anything that made them happy: a poem, a note from a satisfied customer, a picture of their kids, whatever. IBM knew that disappointment is inevitable in business, specially for those in sales. By focusing on the things that make us happy, they hoped it would help those in need of encouragement to change their perspective. Instead of focusing on the negative outcome of the moment, people would focus on the long-term things that made them happy, giving them purpose and reminding them of a bigger picture.
I like that approach. I have started what I call my “perspective folder.” It’s not a manila folder that I keep in my office drawer, but a digital folder stored in my DropBox account I can access from anywhere on any device including my phone. In it I keep digitized copies of notes from friends and family, pictures of my boys, my personal and career goals, and even Scripture that speaks to my heart.
My perspective folder, much like my life, is growing and becoming rich with content that attest to the blessed and great life I have. During the times I lose that perspective and turn my heart towards what has been lost and what is not working, I make my way back to it. In a matter of minutes, I find myself resetting my internal compass and leaving behind the shadows.
If you were to start your own perspective folder, what would be in it from the beginning?