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Positive Thinking, Negative Strategy

By Jason dela Rosa, CEO Insights

As entrepreneurs and business owners, we know that it’s always good to think positive. Chemically, it gives our minds the energy and the confidence to act even when things are looking pretty grim. It helps to keep us feel that nothing can go wrong and that the future is brighter than what it is now.

However, if you use this positive energy as the only thing to keep pushing forward, then the chances of failure increases. Sometimes, it affects our ability to think objectively because our passion gets in the way of allowing practical thinking to step in.

In my years as an entrepreneur, it helps to use a negative strategy, along side your positive thinking; the yin and yang mindset.

Inversion thinking is a method where you begin with the failure in mind. Once you have set a fail scenario for yourself, you back plot or plot all the activities that you feel will lead to that failure. Then you forward avoid by NOT doing those activities. This will bring you further and further away from the fail scenario, and your chances of success will increase. This strategy will keep you grounded as your move forward with positive energy.

In my book The Practical Entrepreneur’s  5th chapter, I talked about Inversion Thinking. Basically, the concept of inversion thinking, a risk aversion method, is all about creating your specific fail scenario instead of a success scenario. I back plot all the brick walls (activities that contribute to the fail scenario), then forward avoid by listing the new activities that will allow me to avoid all those I plotted. At the same time, I will write contingencies just in case I hit the brick wall after creating all means possible to avoid it. It will take a bit longer to reach success, but at least I will be able to detect failure points along the path before I even hit them. When I don’t plot my failure points, and I hit them like brick walls, I wouldn’t be able to push myself back up quickly and react. This is better to be developed as a team because foreseeing failures requires different perspectives and experiences. Sometimes, mentors can also be involved to help plot everything. Some people ask me, “is this being too pessimistic?” I tell them no.

You can keep your positive thinking, but you better supplement it with a negative strategy, a yin and yang mindset, for the sake of survival and endurance. In this crisis situation that we have, it’s good to keep hopeful for the future so that we can have something to look forward to, but keep both feet on the ground when you do your planning to survive. Use inversion thinking so that you are always prepared.

Let me give you a basic example. Consider a specific fail scenario: “my business will close down in another month of quarantine because of lack of cash”. What can you put as a brick wall?

Begin by back plotting a failure point, “I get denied by loan company”. How can you and your team avoid this brick wall? I can start by asking the team now to forward avoid by creating proactive action points such as

(1) Have at least submitted complete requirements to three lending companies,

(2) follow up regularly on the status. Then contingency if we hit the brick wall is

(3) Standby bridge loan from my family and friends.

This is a simplistic example, but you get how it can help you manage risks of failure. Write things down frequently, and edit as you go along. Doing this gives you documented foresight which helps you not repeat same mistakes again. You are also able to bring in a mentor to help you in different activities you’ve plotted to ensure that you avoid the failures better. Try this strategy when planning to survive the crisis, because those who can anticipate problems before they happen wins.

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