The Dark Side of Positive: “That Does Not Enter My Reality”

As part of my Japanese studies, I’ve been watching a lot of J-dramas.

This week, I found myself watching Yankee-kun to Megane-chan (Yankee guy and Glasses girl) a comedy where a High School girl with a Type-A personality tries to drag a deliquent back to school.

The main character is like a cheerleader on steroids: Super-enthused to be there, Super-driven to pull everyone into her whirlwind of positivity.  Nothing slows her down, obstacles and negativity of others roll off her back like water in pursuit of her goal: to create good memories of high school.

Mid-laugh, it hit me that this approach worked for her because their negativity did not Enter her Reality. She was aware of their pushback, but her intention overrode everything: from her classmates’ apathy to the deliquent’s resistance.

Her attitude is admirable. Everyone should be able to push past negativity to accomplishment.  But we need to be aware of the dark side of such fiercely realized focus.

Dark Side of Being Positive

Our drive to push past negativity may be a bad thing when we…

  1. Ignore legitimate concerns about risk or issues
    Megane-chan ignores the concerns of her classmates when she tries to convince Yankee-kun to help them paint the mural.  And later their concerns seem to be legitimate when she ends up surrounded by gang members.

    Brushing aside concerns raised by the team because “they don’t Enter our Reality” can lead to rework, slipped schedules or project failure. Want to place any bets on the number of concerns raised at BP?

  2. Leads us to forget that getting buy-in to decisions that require people’s participation is crucial
    Arbitrarily deciding on the mural was Megane-chan’s decision, but she had to get people to agree to show up before school to paint it.  Making sure that everyone is on the same page and are willing to support the decision can be critical when you encounter difficulties as a result of the decision.
  3. Not hearing stakeholder concerns or wishes
    Some times we get so caught up in project mechanics or internal politics that we forget to look outside at the customer’s concerns. We’re churning out this product through our established “process” and the customer sounds like a mosquito next to the clanking of the process machinery.  Their concerns fail to Enter our Reality.

Being upbeat and positive has led me down each of these paths, so I can speak from experience that it is very easy to slip onto the dark side. What’s important is to be aware when you’re about to step over the line and let what you’re hearing enter your reality.

Have you ever found yourself on the dark side of being upbeat? Leave a comment, send me a tweet, my id is jgodfrey.


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2 Comments

  1. Excellent perspective, Joelle.

    I am a “practicing optimist,” but seek to always balance this approach with a healthy dose of reality! A little naivete cannot hurt, but unchecked optimism certainly has its pitfalls!

  2. Excellent post; I’ve seen this in reality – the failings of “That Does Not Enter My Reality”. Usually requires a sufficiently-safe/strong personal relationship with the practitioner to break through missed cues to bring up the valid points that aren’t being heard.

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