Since we were little, the majority of us have been taught to look out for what is going wrong and fix the problem. This can be for anything from getting an "E" at school to having friendship issues.
While this might work for basic problems (such as why isn't my car working?) for more complicated ones we need to look at changing our mindset.
According to the Law of Attraction " I attract to myself, whatever I give my focus, attention, or energy to; whether wanted or unwanted", if you look for problems and focus on them. Guess what? You're just exemplifying them.
Rather than looking for problems or negatives, we actually need to put our focus on what is working (or positives). We need to investigate our successes just as thoroughly as we investigate our failures (see Why your Good Safety Record Actually Sucks).
According to Chip and Dan Heath from the book, Switch, in tough times we see problems everywhere (and let's face it, there are some people who see negatives even in good times). To make progress, discovering what is working can help solve your problem. By finding what is working and cloning it, you can start to direct people on what to do and how to get there.
Let's take a look at a business example.
Finding safety bright spots
Say you launch an initiative within your company that says that everyone must wear safety glasses at all times. However, when you visit some of your sites, you realise that only 65% of workers are doing the right thing.
The most common approach would be to send an email around asking people to immediately wear the safety glasses, tell everyone how important it is and possibly add a few words to let them know you're not happy. A few legal reasons might be thrown around as well.
As we all know, such communication can provide mixed results. Even worse, it can backfire, with even less people wearing safety glasses during the next impromptu site visit.
So what to do?
Discover what's working
This is where you need to find out who is wearing safety glasses all the time. Where do you have the highest compliance rate and why? Then, effort needs to be spend asking those who are complying, why are they doing it? What makes them want to do it?
You might uncover that they have made it part of their routine. Every time they clock on the next thing they do is put their glasses on. Or it might be that they know someone who got a terrible eye injury and they don't what that to happen to them.
With that information, you would instruct everyone to put their glasses on as soon as they clock in. You might even have safety glasses readily available at the clocking in machine. Further, you'd bring someone in to talk to staff about how their eye injury affected them or create a training video that has such a person talking about their experience.
The beauty with this way of thinking is that it stops us on focusing on what is going wrong, which if you believe in the Law of Attraction, just brings us more 'wrong' and instead, shifts our focus on what is going right.
Rather than obsessing about why staff aren't listening to you or madly trying to work out what approach to take, all you need to focus on is "What's working and how can we do more of it?"