Positivity is a hard skill to master. It requires working to bolster it and build muscle behind it. It means choosing it over and over until it becomes reflexive.
Rarely are our paths smooth or straight. We’re faced with setbacks that challenge and discourage us. Progress isn’t always linear. Sometimes it’s sideways. We have to pay our dues. We have to take our licks.
How we choose to respond is the only real control we have in our careers and in our lives. This is why attitude matters.
A Litany of Setbacks
I made it a priority to improve my attitude by changing the way I thought about the challenges I face. I credit therapy for helping me. It’s a perspective that’s been tested many times.
In 2013, I considered going to school before teaching myself web development. I was advised against pursuing a computer science degree because it was too “math heavy” for me based on my academic resume.
In 2021, I received my undergrad in computer science, summa cum laude.
At 34, my lack of technology experience was scoffed at. Once I landed a job, I heard that I wouldn’t last in my position; it was only a matter of time before I failed. Then, I was told my soft skills were too polished to be a successful software developer. It was implied that these are mutually exclusive skill sets.
This marks my sixth year working in software.
The Strength of Positivity
In Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl wrote “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way” (Frankl, V. 1962).
It’s up to us to decide how we interpret and respond to what we experience.
Positivity isn’t taught in schools. It’s learned. And although it’s considered a soft skill, it’s pretty hard to keep up. Having thick skin is helpful. But embracing positivity is more than not letting the bad stuff in. It’s seeing the good in the bad. It’s viewing adversity as the teacher.
How do you view positivity?
Frankl, V. E. (1984). Man’s search for meaning: An introduction to logotherapy. New York: Simon & Schuster.