Among all the high-tech talk at HighEdWeb11 in Austin, many key takeaways involved the importance of people and treating others well. Perhaps the best example involved a suggestion from Alana Riley of the Berklee School of Music in her project management presentation … a non-technical activity turned into a daily ritual.
Alana’s outstanding presentation — separated into three sections of people, documents and things — perhaps was most memorable for her examination of the “soft skills” and the human side of the equation. She cited studies that show we think better when we’re happy, and how being positive (or negative) can correspondingly impact the end result. I loved this quote: “It doesn’t take much to make someone feel appreciated. And it doesn’t take much to make someone feel unappreciated.” It’s something we really need to think about all the time, but we don’t. And that wasn’t even the golden nugget!
The true prize of her session was her suggestion that, at the end of every day, we take time to write down three positive things that happened to us that day. “I’ve been doing it for a few months now + really enjoy it,” she said in a follow-up tweet. “It really does train your mind to be more positive :)”
It’s a very intriguing idea that, by making a conscious effort to look for the positive, this can impact our focus and our disposition in positive ways. It would be easy to be skeptical at first, unless you’ve met Alana. She exudes a kind of positivity that tells you there’s something to this theory.
I started the day I flew home from HighEdWeb, and recalling the positive interactions (if also bittersweet goodbyes) with friends made that day easy. Not every day since has had its share of gimmes, but it really can train you to keep a kind of running tally, where a switch goes off and you think: “Aha, there’s one!” Positive things can be personal in nature — being pleased with a great workout, eating healthy, finishing a project — but the ones that make me smile most involve helping and interacting with other people. Maybe, in a way, focusing on the positive makes one more aware of the relationships around us we take for granted? And, perhaps, doing so can make those relationships, and those around us, more positive in nature?
Hey, if nothing else, give it a try and see what happens. You may be positively surprised.