Stay Positive And Continually Push Ahead To Overcome Setbacks

When things go wrong, keep pushing, focus on ways to stay positive and don’t view quitting as an option. That’s not just an attitude, it can be learned, too.


The ability to stay positive is the key to getting past setbacks and forging ahead to succeed, says Jason Selk, director and founder of St. Louis-based performance enhancement company Enhanced Performance and former director of mental training for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Focus on what you’ve done well to get past missteps. It isn’t easy to stay positive, though.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a rock star or a great athlete, there’s a biologic tendency to focus on the negative,” Selk, author of “Relentless Solution Focus,” told Investor’s Business Daily. “You can do 100 things right and one wrong, and you’ll tend to focus on what went wrong.”

Learn To Stay Positive

But people can learn to be mentally strong and stay positive. The key, Selk says, is to shift your thinking from focusing on problems to finding solutions.

Selk has a three-minute technique that involves keeping a daily log of successes and doing a quick mental workout. Start with the log of successes, including one vitally important step. “Learn to, on a daily basis, ask yourself this question: ‘What are three things I did well today?’ And write it down,” he said.

The success log involves answering other questions, such as what you want to improve on and the steps you can take to make that happen. These will help avoid the temptation to throw in the towel.

You can do this daily with your kids when you ask how their day was. They’ll focus on what went wrong. Selk has required his kids over the years to start with what went well after school or a practice to help them stay positive.

“If my own family has been a science experiment, it’s been a huge success,” he said. “I know my children have a deeper level of mental toughness and I think they’re more positioned for success than most of their peers.”

He also tells people to do a five-step mental workout that involves visualizing success and what you need to do that day. He put that in place when he joined the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006.

Health, happiness and success all increase for people who focus on solutions and stay positive rather than dwelling on problems, Selk says.

Find Your Niche To Stay Positive

Pete Luongo, retired chief executive of Dayton, Ohio-based Yellow Pages advertising company Berry Co., tells people to make sure they find their best role. It’s a lot easier to stick with something you love than something you dread.

“So many people get into a situation that’s not their sweet spot,” Luongo said. “If you don’t come to work every day and feel passionate about it, try something else.”

It’s up to leaders of organizations to recruit and retain the people who do love what they do and stay positive. Weeding out the low achievers is key. “They’ll suck the life out of an organization,” he said.

Gain From Positivity

Adopt the attitude that failure isn’t an option. Realize there are benefits when things go wrong.

“We learn more when we fail than when we succeed,” Luongo said. “But you have to fail in a learning posture. That’s the only way to succeed. There’s no disappointment in failure if you learn from it.”

Give people leeway to suffer setbacks. Once people know the leader won’t beat them up over one mistake, people will feel free to try new things and stay positive.

Just because you treat mistakes as opportunities to learn doesn’t mean everyone gets a free pass for every mistake.

“You can’t manage outcomes unless you hold people accountable,” Luongo said. “Ask them why something didn’t work and help them figure out how to do it better next time so it doesn’t happen again. And then hold them accountable.”


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