The Positive Principle

This is the second in a series of articles introducing the Principles of Positive Leadership!

The philosophical foundation of our Theory of Positive Leadership begins with the positive principle, which was introduced by Norman Vincent Peale in his seminal work, The Power of Positive Thinking, first published in 1952. Twenty-First Century readers are encouraged to read this work with the caveat that it was written by a Christian clergyman within a strong evangelical Christian context. Nevertheless, the message has great secular value.

The essence of the positive principle is that anything man can imagine, man can do. It is only when one has a belief in the possibility of a thing that it becomes possible. The positive principle also incorporates the belief that human beings are children of our creator and are essentially good. The message suggests that the world is full of negative forces and influences that will eat away at the esteem in which men and women view themselves, individually and as part of the world around them. The work is full of examples that demonstrate that “you do not need to be defeated by anything, that you can have peace of mind, improved health, and a never-ceasing flow of energy.”

Dr. Peale writes that we all want the same things out of life, “What every one of us wants, more than anything else, is life. Life is vitality; it is energy; it is freedom; it is growth.” Peale suggests that the differences between people, of whatever race, creed, or heritage are insignificant when compared to the similarities. Once one accepts this axiom, that we all want the same things out of life – that we are, in fact, interdependent – it becomes much easier to work toward win-win opportunities in both our personal and business relationships. Think about this in the context of supply chain management, that all members of a supply chain are interdependent and that the success of any one member is contingent upon and serves the success of the other members.

For leaders, irrespective of venue, this suggests that all the people within the organization are interdependent and that this interdependency extends beyond the boundaries of one’s organization to includes both those who serve and those whom are served by the organization and its mission.

The positive principle suggests that most of the obstacles that stand in the way of the achievement of our goals and objectives exist in our mind, not in the real world. Peale writes that “too many people are defeated by everyday problems of life,” and that this is “quite unnecessary. . . . People complain about the bad breaks they receive without any sense of how they, as individuals, can control and even determine those breaks.”

Positive Leaders understand that anything we can imagine is possible and that all human beings are linked by common objectives of the most fundamental kind. Positive leaders also understand that one’s focus on the positive is powerfully energizing on the one hand and serves to bring negative influences and factors into a manageable perspective. Positive leaders also believe that their relentless pursuit of ever higher levels of excellence serves the interests of all of the partners of a supply chain. It is based on the fundamental belief that every job done well contributes an element of beauty to the world.

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