The Brain Science of Startup Positivity

By Dan Martell, special to Overdrive

You’re an entrepreneur. You chose this lifestyle and its ups and downs. Insanity aside, how do you survive it? Sure, there’s the age-old “positive thinking leads to positive outcomes” mentality, but if it were that easy … would we even need entrepreneurs?

Instead, start by cutting the negative stuff out of your life and surrounding yourself with the positive. Not only do you lack room for nay-sayers and negativity in your life, it’s making you less smart.

“There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.” – Mark & Angel Hack Life.

Take inventory on what’s dragging you down and what’s killing your intelligence. Now make the decision to change it.

Only YOU Have the Power to Fix Your Brain

Thanks to a science called neuroplasticity, you have the power to heal your own brain. Introduced by scientist William James in 1890, neuroplasticity and the idea that the brain is extremely adaptable is now widely accepted. “The brain has the capacity to rewire itself and/or form new neural pathways, if we do the work,” says Norman Doidge, M.D.

If you’re surrounded by a less-than-stellar team or negative influences, you’re not screwed for all eternity, but bear in mind that studies have shown 30 minutes of negativity (read: whining) can damage neurons to the brain, reducing problem-solving abilities. Abilities that are crucial to succeeding.

“The brain works more like a muscle than we thought,” says Trevor Blak, author of Three Simple Steps: A Map to Success in Business and Life. “So if you’re pinned in a corner for too long listening to someone being negative, you’re more likely to behave that way, as well.”

Do the work. Start by removing those who add negativity to your life and surround yourself with a positive team. Inject a wicked culture into your workplace that will inspire your team and increase employee retention, keeping your best people around. Your brain will quickly adapt to its new positive surroundings, while filtering any remaining negativity. Best of all, your performance will start to improve.

You’ll also quickly realize that you don’t miss the complainers!

Acknowledge Evolution and Rise Above It 

It’s in our DNA to be drawn to the negative side of things and hyper aware of threats; we’re born evolutionarily adaptive in order to survive. “When there’s a sabre-toothed tiger running after you, it’s healthy to be scared. You’re going to run away and you’re going to live,” says social psychologist Jamie Gruman of the University of Guelph.

In the face of danger, our natural instinct is to protect ourselves … but how do entrepreneurs act when facing stress? How do we move forward in the wake of failure?

By acknowledging that factors such as stress, hardships or failure exist and respecting this reality, we can rise above it. Despite the healthiest dose of positivity in your life, there will always be negativity. It’s unavoidable and the price of doing business. By remembering to always allow your consciousness to process it and learn from it,  you can overcome it by focusing on the positive around you.

Release the Dope

The benefits of hiring a positive team that works hard and gets incredible stuff done extends further than just better performance and startup success … it’s contributing to your overall well-being. It’s not news that happiness causes increased levels of dopamine in your system, but not everyone realizes that dopamine isn’t solely responsible for happiness; it also activates important learning centers in your brain, allowing you to adapt to your surroundings and overcome stressors in your environment. It’s in you, waiting to be released. What are you waiting for?

Experience the Happiness Advantage 

“[It’s] the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality. And if we can change the lens, not only can we change your happiness, we can change every single educational and business outcome at the same time.”- Shawn Anchor, CEO of Good Think, Inc.

You may think you’re smarter than most people, but only 25 percent of job successes can be predicted by the I.Q. The true power to succeed and survive the inevitable lows that come with entrepreneurship (the other 75 percent), rests in optimism, social support and the entrepreneur’s ability to see stress as a challenge instead of a threat.

“If you can raise somebody’s level of positivity in the present, then the brain experiences a happiness advantage,” explains Anchor. “Your brain at positive performs significantly better than it does at negative, neutral or stressed. Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises and your energy levels rise. In fact, what we found is every single business outcome improves. Your brain at positive is 31 percent more productive.”

That 31 percent could mean the difference between succeeding or failing in business or life. All it takes is cutting out the negative in your life and replacing it with the positive. What’s holding you back?

Dan Martell is an award-winning entrepreneur and founder of Clarity, a platform that helps entrepreneurs give and get relevant advice over the phone. He previously co-founded Flowtown, a social marketing application, which raised venture funding and was eventually acquired by Demandforce in 2011. Today, Dan spends his spare time giving back to the startup community as a mentor, advisor and world-class speaker.

Categories: Inspirational


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