Is This Positive or Pragmatic?

A friend of mine in Ohio named Michelle got engaged a few months ago. She and her new fiancé decided to paint her home so it would be live-in ready after they were married.

She went inside her empty bedroom to start painting, and her man had painted this inside the closet wall…

It’s sweet, isn’t it? Each woman who sees this has the same response: “Awe! That is so romantic!” And what that woman doesn’t say is that she spends the rest of her day wondering when was the last time her own man did something sweet and special for her like that.

Then there is a typical male response to this picture. “When they paint over that, they’ll need several coats of primer first to keep the red from bleeding through.”

How is it possible that people can look at the same situation and come up with two completely different responses?

In this case, it seems it’s related to gender. But I disagree.

I think it has to do with the reality that some of us choose to be positive, and some of us more pragmatic. Positive people are more geared to seeing the up-side in any situation. The hand-painted “WILL YOU MARRY ME?” sign in fire red was intended to be positive, loving, and tender. And fortunately, it was received by Michelle as a warm, adoring gesture. Had Michelle been pragmatic about the sign in her closet, she might have said, “Great! I wasn’t planning on painting the closets. That’s going to create a lot of extra work for me.” Why? Because pragmatic people aren’t as likely to be moved by symbolic gestures or tenderness. Instead, pragmatic individuals focus on practical outcomes and results.

My buddy Sam Glenn might ask this question: “What do you do when you have an unscheduled appointment with adversity?” Positive people roll with it, look for the silver-lining, and seek some sort of optimal outcome in the adversity. Even in difficult times, positive people try to learn a lesson or gain an insight that will help them down the road.

Pragmatic people react differently to adversity. They kick into damage-control mode where their main concerns surround minimizing any forthcoming negative consequences. And that means they can’t even enjoy a warm, romantic marriage re-proposal painted on the wall in their closets.

I’ve said many times that every good boss I’ve had was pragmatic. They knew how to get things done. They attended to the bottom line and the end results. But every great boss I’ve ever had balanced that drive with a high level of positivity.

Which kind of person are you choosing to be? One who sees a lasting sign of committed love? Or one that sees a stain that will need to be covered for resale value?

Congratulations, Michelle!

Best wishes for the two of you to experience the happiest life together!

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