The Power of Assuming Positive Intent

I used to think it was other people, or certain situations and things that were holding me back from success. I thought that if I could change the people around me or get away from them or the situation, I would experience success. It was as if THEY were the source and reason for my dissatisfaction or frustration.

As I’ve matured spiritually and emotionally, I realized that wasn’t true. My biggest breakthrough in success, happiness, AND improving the quality of my relationships wasn’t changing the people around me, but instead changing my own perspective.

Practice Non-Judgement

I learned to “assume positive intent,” meaning no matter what another person says or does, rather than immediately judging them, I instead would assume positive intent. I assumed they meant well or were doing their best.

How many times have we been subject to a driver cutting us off, or a harsh word or tone of voice? Too many to count right? But until I learned to assume positive intent, my first reaction was to judge the other person as rude, insensitive, a jerk, etc. I was judging that person without knowing anything about them other than what I felt they were “doing to me.”

Assuming Positive Intent means always starting from the idea that a person meant well or was doing their best, no matter what they say or do.

Mistrust Causes Misguidance

As a child you may have been taught to distrust, as I was. The dialogue of today’s society sounds familiar to what I used to hear from adults in my young life. “The government is out to get you,” “Big business is bad,” “The police are corrupt,” “Life is hard,” and “Rich people are evil.”

Over the last decade societal tensions have grown, and the divide has been fueled by salty politics, changing culture and the hyper-focused media. This has translated into a belief that people who are different from us, or people in power, or people with money, or people who believe something different… can’t be trusted.

When I started my first business in 2001, I was constantly worried about who would steal my ideas, or who would take advantage of our company.  As a result of that ingrained mistrust, I attracted people that did indeed take advantage of the business. I teach the concept “You get what you focus on”, and back then I got exactly that. I was expecting to be taken advantage of, and that is exactly what I got.

Positive Intent in Leadership

In the spring of 2008, I decided to sell my company and start over completely, doing purposeful work. Share On Purpose Inc. and its brands were born shortly thereafter as a result of this transformation.

Since I was basically starting over, I wanted everything to be different, including me and how I led. I made a list of things I wanted to change about myself, and at the top of the list was to learn how to be an authentic leader and, specifically, to assume positive intent all the time.

Many professionals are innately distrustful, whereas authentic leaders employ the powerful principle to “assume positive intent.” No matter what another person does, the authentic leader does not judge their behavior but rather “assumes” that the person meant well (or at least did not mean to cause harm).

Authentic leaders enter every exchange with an assumption that the person isn’t being deceptive or trying to cause harm. This “trust first” belief dynamically changes communication and instills a transparent culture.

When positive intent is first assumed, every person is given the benefit of the doubt. Trust is naturally extended – they were doing their best regardless of words or actions. This dramatically reduces judgement, which erodes trust and reduces the tendency of over-personalizing interactions. The Authentic Leader maintains a positive and productive energy, which translates to the team fortunate enough to work with them.

Positive Intent in Relationships

The more I assume positive intent, the better my relationships have become. With these quality relationships, I am more joyful, more loving and more giving. This has led me to two powerful truths:

  1. When I trust, I attract people who are whole, healthy and treat me with the respect and grace I deserve.
  2. When people do hurt me or take advantage of me in some way, rather than being mad, getting even or stewing in my pain, I assume they are simply trying to protect themselves. I trust they are struggling with their own issues, and doing the best they can, where they are. Like Joyce Meyer said, “Hurt people – hurt people.”  I assume, no matter what, they had a positive intent.

To assume positive intent is not always the easiest change one can make, but by doing so it is a recipe for added joy and fulfillment in life. Guide yourself on a more positive life path and improved personal relationships by assuming positive intent!

Navigating Career Change with Wisdom

Every professional will experience a transition at some point in their career.  Whether it’s moving up the ladder or changing industries entirely, one thing is certain; you will need to acquire new knowledge, learn different skills and take on unique challenges. So, what is the best way to succeed in a career transition? The answer is a powerful but underestimated principle: Wisdom Simplifies.

According to Terri Maxwell, CEO of Share On Purpose, Wisdom Simplifies means looking to mentors and resources without hesitation, rather than believing you have to know everything and do it all yourself.

This is precisely what Gerardo Osorio, Senior Engagement Manager at Promote On Purpose, did to make sense of his career transition.

Taking On New Challenges

For Gerardo, making the shift from 10+ years in Healthcare Operations to a marketing role in the Healthcare Division at Promote On Purpose would require a welcome challenge. Gerardo knew he brought a lot to the table, but to truly succeed in his new position it would require discipline and focus, so he relied on a proven system that has helped him learn and grow in the past. “The first thing I do is deconstruct my new challenge into its basic elements,” he said. “This is important to avoid overwhelm. I ask myself, what small things can I do that will create the most impact? For me, reading is at the top of this list. I spend about an hour every morning reading. And since I already have that habit established, all I do is pick a book that applies to the field or topic I am working on and try to get up to speed. This is a great way for me to use available resources and other people’s experiences in the form of books to learn what I need to know.”

Next, Gerardo finds someone else who is skilled and prepared to provide help and support. “I have learned that you definitely do not need to know all the answers, you just need to know whom to go to for help. And finding that person is as simple as looking around my network and approaching the person who is the most experienced and knowledgeable about the skill I’m trying to acquire. And I leverage that to the best of my ability.” He has taken these principles to heart, and they have helped him tremendously in his new capacity as a marketing executive. He’s currently reading books on business operations, marketing, and advertising to help strengthen his knowledge in those areas.

“I also make it a point to ask questions about the things I do not fully understand because the more I ask clarifying questions, the faster I can grasp the concepts I need to learn to be productive.”

According to Gerardo, there is an even better, unintended consequence of asking questions and leaning on the experience of others. You not only have answers to your questions, you also learn how the other person thinks and understand how they developed their solution. “Many times, people reach conclusions and find answers to their biggest questions without really documenting and mapping out their thought process. By asking them for help, you’re giving them an opportunity to reverse engineer the solution they came up with and possibly document it for future reference.”

Gerardo believes that this back and forth also helps in building workplace relationships because it fosters a deep understanding of your team member’s point of view and how they approach issues. “The more understanding there is between team members, the more success the team experiences.”

Lastly, he explains that asking questions and leaning on others’ experiences is crucial for gathering information, having knowledge and thinking deeply about why things are the way they are. “When starting out in their careers, many people have a deep desire to have all the answers, so they pursue that knowledge just for the sake of it. I believe it is more important to know why things work the way they do. This way you grow intellectually, strengthen your skill set and develop a way to tackle problems in the future.”

A Winner’s Mindset

According to Gerardo, patience is absolutely crucial for tackling new learning challenges. “You need to be patient with yourself because you can’t expect to know or learn everything you need all at once.” He advises anyone in such situations to take a look at the scope of the challenge they’re being presented and ask “How long will the average person take to finish this? And how much time should I take to finish this?” In other words, set realistic expectations.

He also explains that discipline and creativity are vital traits that make one a more effective professional and individual. “Without discipline, you lack the mental energy and drive to prioritize and go the extra mile to face a learning challenge head-on. And creativity ensures you’ll be flexible and can come up with clever ways of managing and tackling your learning challenges in efficient ways.”

These are all values and principles that Gerardo leans on as he continues to challenge himself intellectually and grow his career as an executive within the Share On Purpose portfolio.

Find the Right Team

At Share On Purpose, we support new hires in career changes and strive to put existing team members in roles that align with their passions and purpose. We provide resources, including mentoring, coaching and extensive training through Share School, focusing on job skills, as well as personal and professional development.

Are you looking to work with a company that gives you the support and opportunities you need to advance your career? Check out our available positions.

Wisdom Simplifies

Most know me as CEO of Succeed On Purpose and the Share On Purpose Portfolio of Companies, but did you know I started my career as a middle school teacher?

How does someone go from middle school teacher, to business executive, to serial entrepreneur? My secret (and one of our guiding principles) is: Wisdom Simplifies.

Wisdom Simplifies means rather than believing you have to know everything and do it all yourself, you instead look for mentors and resources quickly.

For example, when I wanted to transition out of teaching and into my first entry-level consulting role in educational software, I had NO computer experience and no experience teaching adults. So, I immediately took classes and looked for a mentor to show me the way.

When I was promoted from consultant to Director of Training, I sought courses and mentors who could show me how to design a training curriculum for our company.

When our Vice President said I had a natural gift for marketing (who knew?!) and wanted to promote me to Director of Training & Marketing, I not only sought mentorship but also joined the Business Marketing Association to sharpen my skills and learn the ropes.

The truth is my professional success can in large part be attributed to my willingness to search for training, resources, and mentorship frequently and often.

In every step of my career, I did not know how to do what was expected of me, but I built a reputation for “finding a way” and being willing to “do whatever it takes” which almost always included being mentored and seeking training.

When we founded what is now Share On Purpose, Inc., I was passionate about leveraging my wealth of entrepreneurial experience and my purpose (to inspire potential). As we shaped our strategy and refined our business model, our Guiding Principles began to take shape.

I knew that Wisdom Simplifies would be a practical and powerful principle for our team to embrace. Since we create companies that are unique, different and game-changing, it’s not like we can hire someone off the street who already knows what to do because it’s never been done before.

Not only are we okay with that, but we frequently hire staff members who are willing to try new things, and willing to do the work to learn what they do not know. Our CFO had a 25-year career in Commercial Property Management. Our Talent Director began her career in marketing. Most of the associates who work for us are doing things they’ve never done before.

As associates learn more about their passions, we work with them to find roles they can grow into that more closely align with those passions. At the same time, the expectation is they will “master their craft” by seeking mentors, training, and resources to help them learn what they need to know.

Career transitions do not need to be hard, but you will have to muster the courage to face the fear of not knowing what you need to know, and gain the confidence that you can figure it out over time.

We pride ourselves on being that kind of company. At Share On Purpose, we offer a significant amount of training, but we believe Wisdom Simplifies is more than that. It’s the wisdom that employees gain after the training – how it is assimilated and how it is applied.

The definition of wisdom is: “the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.”

We prefer wisdom for this principle because we consider wisdom to be “knowledge in action” and a state of becoming smarter, wiser and more prepared on the journey.

So, if you’re looking for a place that not only values training and development, but invests in team members’ wisdom, consider Share On Purpose, Inc. If you’re looking for a place where you can try new things and follow your passion. Check out our open positions.