Few years ago, we had organised our global sales conference in Las Vegas. We do this every year bringing teams from different geographies to interact, ask them to present their plans and also provide them opportunities for lots of fun during the three days. The conference usually ends with a group photograph followed by a message on what is in store for them during the rest of the year if they don’t deliver.
The conference was scheduled to start on the first day at 7:00 PM with a guest speaker who is expected to deliver a high impact speech to pump the adrenalin of participants and get them excited. While planning to nominate a speaker, a Simon Radcliffe (name changed) walked up and proposed that we bring someone who can speak and imbibe positive thinking in the teams. I have never paid attention to positive thinking in my life and negative thinking either. Positive thinking is a very Western concept and the Eastern concept is all about happiness.
I asked ‘Simon, how will YOU implement positive thinking’?
‘I should become a Regional Head to make my life more exciting’.
‘Is your life not exciting now?’
‘.. Means you are not happy now. How do you assume you will be happy in the future, which is unknown entity?’
‘This is negative thinking’
‘You are unhappy now and you believe with positive thinking you will be assured of a happy future’
‘What does this mean?’
‘Happiness is about how you feel inside. You can be in paradise and still sulk. Just imagine an unhappy being that is unaware of life at this moment aiming to find happiness in future that may not be yours or even exist’.
‘Should we think negatively?’
‘Absence of positive thinking does not mean negative thinking. Positive thinking has lead people towards unrealistic things and wanting more and more. This has lead to depression and what not. Positive thinking has produced psychos, which is more true in the western world. America seems to be leading in positive thinking. You wake up on a nice sunny morning to find a psycho shooting dead dozens of school children’
‘Then how should we adopt to life?’
‘As an example, the Indian philosophy has always propagated to live in the present and not to be attached to fruits of action. This way you take whatever comes the same way. The failures in the present or future don’t affect you. Inner happiness is what matters. We already have few psychos in the organisation and we should not aim to increase this number through positive thinking’.
The concept of positive thinking seems to be rapidly catching up in India especially in cities, which is an alarming sign.
Finally we decided to bring Robert Cialdini, who authored a book called Influence – Science and Practice. It was agreed that he will deliver the lecture and provide a signed copy of his book to the participants. The book cost was negotiated to be included in the overall price. The agreement was the participants would be let off by 10:00 PM to enable them to conveniently spend the rest of the night gambling and arrive the next day morning by 8:00 AM for another gruelling day. A wine reception was organised ahead of the 7:00 PM lecture and most participants were drunk by the time the lecture began, which was a different matter.
The philosophy of positive thinking means being untruthful; it means being dishonest. It means seeing a certain thing and yet denying what you have seen; it means deceiving yourself and others.” OSHO.