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stairwayEvery now and then an article will appear in the newspapers discrediting people who are ‘into positive thinking’ and who believe that if you cannot change your circumstances, you can at least change your attitude. ‘New age mumbo jumbo’ or some similar epithet will be hurled to make the point. I disagree with this line of thinking.

When you consider how much money organisations spend to create the right kind of environment in which to encourage creativity, productivity and well-being, what is wrong if employees take the initiative to help themselves?

The trouble with most employees is that they are waiting for their line manager or the organisation to provide the inspiration and motivation for them to excel. We have discussed some basic theories of motivation before in these columns but to belabour the point, should your motivation come from inside you or outside?

In my experience, I have never come across a successful person (corporate or entrepreneur) who asked of someone else: “What about my career?” or, “What about my development needs?”

Successful people take their development into their own hands and create opportunities for themselves. They have sought out mentors, difficult assignments, and extra projects in order to get the development they felt they needed. Yes, the motivation may have been power, position or wealth, but the drive came from within.

As we have observed in the various demographic changes taking place, a new type of generation is emerging. The value systems are different, and as a result, their view of the world is also different. Organisations can tap into their positivity by creating groups of young cohorts who are involved in a variety of company or social related projects that enthuse and infuse positive energy within the organisation. If employees find fulfilment through such work, this can only auger well for all.

More than anything else, organisations need these positive hopefuls to counter the dozens of bitter, cynical resident stalwarts who believe the world owes them a living, and that the company has been unfair to them. These people have been around for a long time and are exceedingly unhappy with their lot in life, but will not leave as they have limited options.

So, at the end of the day, who would you rather have on your team – those who believe in ‘New Age Positivism’ or the cranky, cynical lot who see a conspiracy behind every shadow?

For me, the choice is obvious.

– Leon Menezes
The writer is an executive coach, senior HR practitioner, professor and writer.

First published in the Careers Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on October 27, 2013.