Changing the Way Things Are-- from “Downward Spiral Talk” to Possibilities

I’ve been happily listening to the enthusiasm with which people I know from all over the US and Europe have been talking about the springtime weather this year.  It’s the first thing anyone mentions in a conversation, as if all the large and petty problems of daily life can take backstage for a time while we watch the flowers bloom.

What a great perspective to have on life!  Of course, work challenges and life upheavals exist and play their part in how we feel about what we’re doing.  But we can choose how much of our time and energy we feed into ways of thinking and talking that uplift us, as well as those that spin us downward.

In their dynamic book, The Art of Possibility, authors Ben & Roz Zander describe the phrase “downward spiral talk” as “a resigned way of speaking that excludes possibility.”  A woman in her early 30’s, Susanna, talked to me about how she’d selected a career in food management several years previously based on her assessment that she loved food and had all the requisite skills. Then she lamented that she’d never had a job that she enjoyed in that field.  As the Zanders say, “Downward spiral talk creates an unassailable story about the limits to what is possible.”

In the course of our coaching together, Susanna began to realize that she was more than the sum of her parts.  In other words, in planning her career direction earlier, she’d left out considering her purpose, what was important to her whole life, what fueled her energy and got her excited about working in the world. When she realized that her passion in life was fundamentally to create community, she was able to look at work in the food industry with an eye to finding rewarding possibilities.

With this new vision based on a deeper understanding of herself, Susanna took over the management of a restaurant that shared activities with a local community center.  Instead of continuing the downward path of negativity and self-doubt, she radiated her sense of commitment to working and living out what was important to her.  She attracted new possibilities where she helped people connect and come together in enjoyable ways that led her to feeling successful in her chosen career.

How about you?  How would you like to open a field of possibilities in your career?  What’s a different perspective you can choose to hold and inhabit to create a new, positive direction in your professional and personal life now?

“Radiating possibility begins with things as they are and highlights open spaces, the pathways leading out from here.”

-- from The Art of Possibility