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Staying Positive in a Negative World

By Cliff Baird

RISMEDIA, May 15, 2007-"The pessimist sees difficulty in any opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty."

Sometimes it is just plain hard to stay positive in a negative world. There always seems to be those special problems that meet us at the wrong time. There are circumstances that just seem tailor made to discourage us. How then can we remain positive? Perhaps it is as simple as staying focused, remaining flexible and being willing to change.

Quite some time ago, Alfred Binet, the author of the Stanford-Binet test for intelligence, commonly referred to as the IQ (Intelligence Quotient), set out to create a working definition of "intelligence." Although he had written several textbooks on the topic, he realized that the average person would never comprehend the academic approach. He took a six-month sabbatical and finally came up with the following.

He stated that an intelligent person is one who exhibits the following three abilities.

Ability # 1
The ability to take and maintain a definite direction (staying focused)

The easiest thing to do is to take a direction but the most difficult thing is to maintain it. Goal setting is no panacea for mediocrity. When one sets a goal, one needs to have great passion for wanting to achieve it. Over a prolonged period of mediocrity and excuses, one will soon develop a negative attitude to help neutralize the pain from the consequences of the mediocre lifestyle. The lesson here is if you stay focused with passion you will be positive.

Ability # 2
The ability to make adaptations in order to achieve the goal (remaining flexible)

What is not said may be even more important than what he did say about this ability. Notice he did not say that an intelligent person is one who makes adaptations in the goal. To the contrary, he said that an intelligent person is one who makes adaptations, in our activities, in order to accomplish the goal. The goal should never be compromised. We should make adaptations in our activities, our attitudes and our thinking. Why? Binet knew that once a person compromises on one goal it would not be long until the habit of compromise would take root and become part of our everyday behavioral repertoire. Discouragement with self leads to the development of a negative mindset.

Ability # 3
The ability to evaluate and correct oneself (willing to change)

Change is not an event, it is a process. Part of the process is evaluation, but being aware of a problem is not the solution. We indulge ourselves in an overdose of navel-gazing always wondering what new thing we can find out about ourselves. Most of us already know what the problems are. We are just hoping to find someone who will tell us we don't have to do the things we already know we should do. Knowledge is not power. What you choose to do with knowledge can be power.

Cliff Baird, MBA, PhD, is a business therapist and real estate sales management coach, helping agents and managers for over 25 years. He recently introduced ReSTAR (Real Estate Sales Temperament and Aptitude Report) a customized, online recruiting program for brokers and managers. He can be reached at


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