Momentum Podcast: 400

Why We Focus On Negatives

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

As Entrepreneurial Personality Types, we all like to think that we're positive & motivated thinkers. But, if we're honest, most entrepreneurs have a bias for improvement, we're drawn to the negatives. We look for the deficits and vulnerabilities as a survival mechanism. If you as an entrepreneur feel like you're in a place where your thinking is negatively based, you are expressing a survival instinct.

Full Audio Transcript

As entrepreneurial personality types, as evolutionary hunters, we have a bias towards looking for the negative, looking for the correction, and constant improvement. That bias of negativity can keep us negative in our lives, negative in our relationships, and negative in our businesses. There's a way to get out of this, but first, you have to understand where our bias for negativity comes from.

I'm AlexCharfen and this is the Momentum podcast, made for empire builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers, and creators of all kinds. Those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Sure, we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny, we define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop and we don't know how.

While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future and instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly the most important people in the world because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive human evolution and we always will be.

As entrepreneurial personality types, we all like to think that we are positive thinkers. We're motivated thinkers, but the reality is if we're all honest, that most entrepreneurs have a bias for improvement. We have a bias for what we need to change.

We actually have a bias for finding deficit in the world. Why would this be? Well, if we go back thousands of years to where we were all standing around in loin cloths and if we were truly evolutionary hunters about to go out on the hunt, why would it be important for us to know where the deficit is? Why would it be important for us to know who only has one eye or who only has one arm or who has some type of a deficit or some type of a weakness? Why would it be so important for us to be on the constant lookout for and focusing on the negative? Well, because as evolutionary hunters, when you got on a hunt, one of the most important things to know is where are your vulnerabilities? Where are your weaknesses? Where is that deficit? And we look for that deficit as a survival mechanism.

Let that sink in is if you as an entrepreneur know that sometimes your thinking gets to a place where it's negatively based. If you as an entrepreneur know sometimes you think around deficit. If you as an entrepreneur know sometimes you are biased towards looking for what's wrong, I want you to know you are expressing a survival instinct that has been around for Millennia. It has been epigenetically passed down over thousands of years from hunter to hunter to where you now, today, have this negativity bias as a means of survival. That's why we have it, and if it's strong for you, then it's because you are an evolutionary hunter of the highest order and that feeling of survival, that feeling of wanting to survive, that looking for the negative to protect ourselves can be one of the strongest motivations we have in the world. In fact, here's why it can be so challenging: that survival instinct can cause us to constantly look at what can we improve and as a result, we're always looking for what's wrong.

That survival instinct can cause us to judge the people around us and always look for where is the negative. In fact, the easiest thing to identify typically is the negative, but as evolutionary hunters, when we learn to shift our thinking and we learn to look in a different direction, things change fast. See, when we actually start looking for the positive, we create momentum in an entirely different way. I often tell entrepreneurs, if you had a choice to exclusively communicate to your team one of two things, which would you take? And my choices are, one, you can tell your team everything that they're doing right. In fact, you can expect that you can look at everything that they're doing. You can watch them on a daily basis and you can communicate to them exclusively what they're doing right and tell them what is going in the right direction and what you're happy with and what you're proud of, but you can't tell any anything's wrong or let's flip the coin.

You can communicate to your team everything that's wrong. Every deficit that you see, every challenge that you see, every issue that you see, but you can't tell them anything that they're doing right, which would you choose? Well, inexperienced entrepreneurs choose the latter. I want to tell people what's wrong. I want to show them the deficit. I want to show them the problems, but if you've led people for any period of time, then you would know that if you had the opportunity to exclusively communicate in only one of two ways, that you should lean towards the positive, you should actually program yourself to start looking for what's positive, even though it goes against our survival instinct. It's actually one of the greatest ways to create an achievement instinct. See, let's get out of survival and move towards thriving. Let's get out of survival and looking for deficit and start looking for the positive and creating momentum, and if you communicate to your team everything that they're doing right, here's what will happen.

They will amplify those things. They will lean into those things. They will do more of those things. And here's what I know after coaching hundreds of entrepreneurs and leading thousands of people is that when people hear what they're doing right, they succeed infinitely more when they hear, than when they hear what they're doing wrong. And when people are communicated with in a way where they know where they're creating momentum, what they're doing in the right way, where they're moving in the right direction, they will do more of all of those things to the point where you won't see what they're doing wrong anymore. And the challenge for most entrepreneurs is that there's just no contrast.

See, the vast majority of entrepreneurs just communicate deficit. In fact, a lot of entrepreneurs are afraid to tell people what they're doing right. I feel so sorry for their teams because when you have a bias against telling people what they're doing right, when you don't share with people when they're doing the right thing, when they're moving in the right direction, when they're winning, there's no contrast for them. All they ever hear his corrections and when all human beings do is hear corrections, they stopped playing to win and they start playing not to lose. But when you tell your team what they're doing right, when you share with them that they're going in the right direction, when you start moving them in that direction, everything in your business will change.

So I have an experiment for you to go into the new year with. I want you to think about every time you think of something negative, what is being triggered as a survival instinct that you don't need anymore. There is no wholly mammoth anymore. There is nothing chasing you down. You are not in peril. Some of you might be, but let's be honest. 99.9% of the time there really is not real danger and what we should be doing is looking for the positive. We should create a positivity bias where we're looking for what our team is doing right. If we share with our team what they're doing right, it will motivate those around us. It will help them play to win and stop playing not to lose. It will let them take risks and put themselves out there and be vulnerable and do more for you and move in the right direction at a much faster rate, which is what every single one of us with a team wants.

Every one of us wants a team that does more, creates more, and puts more out there in a shorter period of time. Every one of us wants to work with a team that's excited to come to work every day and feels like they are winning. Every one of us wants to work with a team that feels like they aren't working. And the way to do that is to drop the focus on the negative and start focusing on the positive. So I have an experiment for you as you go into 2019. Try, for a week, to communicate to your team exclusively what they're doing well. Put a hash mark down every time you communicate something negative and try and keep it to an absolute minimum for a week and see what happens to your team at the end of that time period. What you may find is what I've found: that I communicate to my team, typically 90% positive, less than 10% corrective because if I just keep telling them what I want them to do, they stay motivated in their zone and creating momentum moving forward.

When I have to correct, even though it's rare, I do it in the kindest way possible in private so that they stay in momentum. Because as entrepreneurs, we have a natural bias to the negative when we are in survival mode. And so one of the other ways that you get out of this is you get yourself out of fight or flight. You get yourself out of urgency. You get yourself out of the feeling of pressure and noise. I'm trying to achieve too much, do too much, make too much happen, because that will make you fundamentally negative. When we are under too much pressure, when we are in fight or flight mode, we go into survival mode and when we're triggered in survival mode, all we see is what's wrong.

All we see is the deficits that challenged the problem, the vulnerabilities that our team and we have around us, but when we pul the target's closer, when we take the pressure off of ourselves, when we get out of fight or flight, when we start eating right, when we start hydrating, when we start moving during the day, when we meditate and breathe, we remove the triggers of fight or flight. We remove the triggers of that survival instinct and we will almost automatically start seeing more of the positive.

See, as entrepreneurs, our negative bias is a survival instinct, but we can overcome that. We can actually move to the place where we are present, we are aware, we are out of the fight or flight instinct, we are not triggered, we lower reactivity, and we can start telling the people around us just how incredible they are, just how much they're doing for us. We can point out the positive. We can get them in momentum and we can become the inner voice that tells them how incredible they are instead of everything that they're doing wrong.

Try this with your team. You may find you have incredible people working for you that you didn't even understand how capable they are. When we move towards the depositive and get out of the negative bias of survival, everything in our business will change and you will see your team show up in a completely and totally different way. If you're ready to build a team that feels motivated everyday and accomplishes more than you ever thought possible, you may want to attend one of our events. Now. We have a very small number of tickets available for people who want to attend. One of our group coaching events or one of our group client events here in Austin and we have one coming up January 24th and 25th. If you go to, you can find more information on the event.

Typically, we make about 10 seats available to people who are not in our coaching programs. Everyone else in the room will be in one of our high level, high ticket masterminds, and you will learn how to plan your business strategically, how to get everyone in your company going in the same direction at the right time, how to prioritize the right projects to move your company forward the fastest, and even better: you will be in a room of game changing, world changing entrepreneurs that are incredibly talented and all applying our content to create momentum in their business, build incredible teams, and maximize their contribution to the world by building an empire. We want to help you do the same thing.

Go to If you've ever considered coming to one of our events, January is the ideal time of year to come down to Austin. Spend two days with us and get more information to grow your business in a way that you didn't even know was possible.

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