The Surprising Power of Negative Thinking

I’m sure you have heard these things before, especially now in an age when positive psychology is so popular: Choose to be happy. Visualize your success and you will be successful. If you believe it, you can achieve it. They’re nice messages, and they’re everywhere.

But scientific evidence suggests that they may not actually be helpful when it comes to achieving our goals and being successful.

Instead, more than 20 years of research by New York University’s Gabriele Oettingen suggests that positive imagery can backfire on us. It can trick the mind into relaxing, making it harder for us to get our work done.

Often it’s negative thinkers who turn out to be the best motivators when it comes to getting things done. Here are some reasons why:

Negative thinkers are tuned in to the challenges ahead. Thinking about future obstacles helps you begin planning strategies to overcome them. When you’re telling yourself everything will work out, you aren’t planning. Negative thinkers have a competitive advantage in the face of difficulties.

Negative thinkers are two steps ahead of everyone. They think of solutions before the problem even appears. You cannot stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.

Negative thinkers undermine complacency. When most people expect everything to go as planned, negative thinkers are making a list of all the things that can fail. They’re rarely caught off guard, and they always have a plan B.

Negative thinkers aren’t so much pessimists as hard-edged realists. They can see not only problems but also opportunities before they arise. They’re skilled at turning failure into lessons. They know how to cut through the bull and wishful thinking to see what’s actually happening in front of them.

So maybe the negative thinkers on your team have more value than you’ve been giving them credit for. Remember, every point of thinking has value.

N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R


What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR,, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

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