Learning leadership & the power of positive thinking

One of my first experiences in learning the power of positive energy happened when I was a senior in high school. I played many sports as a kid, but settled on ultimate frisbee by my sophomore/junior year in high school. (Google it if you haven’t heard of it. It is a legitimate athletic endeavor.) I was a captain that year of a team that was one of the 3 or 4 best teams on the east coast. 

In our last tournament of the season at Columbia HS in NJ, we were playing the host team. They were great kids, wonderful hosts, and good players. But they were not our equals. We had a real chance to win this tournament, which we couldn’t achieve if we lost to Columbia HS. (For the record, I may not get all the details exactly right. It has been almost 20 years. But I think you’ll get the gist of it.) 

The game was to 15. We were playing horribly. As we feel further behind I got very frustrated at our lack of intensity, simple mistakes, and general poor play. I reacted with anger, outward frustration and negativity. Needless to say, that was not an effective motivational tactic for my teammates. Eventually we were down 10 – 5. It was not looking good. One of my coaches pulled me from the game at sat down with me away from the rest of the team. He calmed me down and pointed out that my attitude was affecting the team negatively and was perpetuating the poor play. I wasn’t sure I bought it, but I trusted my coach and was smart enough to know that what I was doing wasn’t working. So, I flipped a switch when I went back after Columbia scored again to make it 5 – 11.

I was overwhelmingly positive. I focused I what I knew we could do, not on what we had done wrong up to that point. I exchanged my pout for a smile and my frustration for high fives and “good games.” As a leader on the team my course correction had immediate effect. It wasn’t long before we had won the game 15 – 13. Not a bad run for a simple change in attitude.

The point is that we affect our own realities and or own outcomes with our attitudes more that we think. Negative breeds negative. Positive breeds positive. 

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