Listen to the podcast here:
Positive Thinking Doesn’t Always Work with David Corbin
Our guest is David Corbin. He’s going to share his unique techniques to confront, examine and fix a problem. He is an author, speaker, mentor and advisor who’s coined the phrase “Illuminating the negative” as the best approach to resolve challenges. He’s been referred to as the “Robin Williams with an MBA,” because of his high content speeches coupled with entertaining and sometimes side-splitting stories and applications. He is a funny guy. He’s a former psychotherapist with a background in healthcare. He served as a management and leadership consultant to businesses, organizations of all sizes and Fortune 20 companies to businesses with less than $1 million. He enjoys the challenges of all of them. He’s worked directly with presidents of companies such as AT&T, Hallmark, Sprint, as well as the Hon. Secretary of Veterans Administration, and many others. David’s latest book Illuminate-Harnessing the Power of Negative Thinking has reached number two in the Amazon category of business life. I’d like to welcome David Corbin. David, it’s great to have you here.
It’s great to be here. The song says you’ve got to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. I’m totally into accentuating the positive. I’m a pretty positive guy. When it comes to reading the books, I can read them all. I’m honored to be in Think and Grow Rich. I’m in that book. I’m around that. We also need to not eliminate the negative. We need to illuminate it and see what’s in the way. What are these obstacles? We can’t stick our head in the sand. Thank you for that cool intro. You and I are philosophically aligned that we’ve got to get real and see what these things are.
I know so many people who don’t allow themselves to be negative because they think that’s taboo. That it’s not allowed to think negative, but they forget that we’re human. In order to get to the crux of a problem, we need to be real. We need to understand what’s going on.
I had a problem. I wasn’t doing my morning meditation. From a productivity point of view, I try to have as much regularity and routine in my schedule. In the morning, I’d wake up and do my morning ablutions. I clean my tongue, brush my teeth and drink this powder that helps to cleanse the body of heavy metals and toxins and all that stuff. I get back in bed. I would do a half-hour meditation using something called Holosync, which is an audio bi-hemispheric training thing. I will do that. Sometimes I would get on Facebook and spiral out on Facebook.
You’re caught in that rabbit hole.
When I realized that I had to accentuate the positive. Facebook is great. It keeps me in touch with my friends from high school, junior high school, Hebrew school. I’ve met all these friends. They’re still in my life over 50 years because Facebook put us back together. That’s accentuating the positive, that’s cool and groovy. If I illuminate the negative, I’d go, “Whoa.” I sometimes get spiraled and whatnot. A lot of people would go, “The positive is so good. I’m going to focus it on that because I’m in touch with these people and that people.” They don’t look and allowed themselves to illuminate the negatives. When I did that I went, “I’m going to limit myself to two times a day to go on Facebook. One of those times a day is not going to be in the morning so that I don’t spiral away.” That’s an example of illuminating and going, “Where is this getting in the way?” The model is quite simple. You got to face it. If I faced the problem that I’m not doing my morning meditation and I follow that out into the future. Let’s face it is step number one. What’s causing it? Let’s look backwards.
What’s causing it is I’m doing Facebook. If I follow it into the future, if I don’t do my meditation, it’s not going to go smoothly. I’m not going to be productive. I’m not going to be as present. I’m not going to be as healthy. There’s going to be cortisol, weight gain, and all that crap. Face it, follow it and then fix it. The third step is to fix it. Fix it is modify the times at which I’ll allow myself to use Facebook. That’s a simple example of the illuminate model. Penny, as you know, people have gotten profound results from Fortune 20 CEOs and Cabinet Members to people who run very small businesses applying this simple model, being aware of it and being attentive to it, you get great results.
Awareness is power. Many times people are stuck in their excuses. That’s one of the biggest time wasters that exist is excuses because people get so caught up in it. It’s important to take a look at it for what it is. As you said, accentuate the positive. I liked the way that you said that. It’s recognized both the pros and the grows. Here, you were able to still utilize Facebook in the positive way that it brings you. You’ve set some boundaries around it and making sure that you’re doing the activities that are right for you at the right time. Those are some real key learnings for people to be able to take because so many times we don’t have boundaries and rules for the way that we do things. By bringing in a few boundaries and rules would help us to be that much more efficient and effective.
We need to not eliminate the negative but illuminate it and see what's in the way. Click To Tweet I love the concept, pros and grows. It’s like in that song, “Win some and learn some,” instead of win some and lose some. One thing is awareness is important. I’m pretty sure, however, that every obese person in America knows that they’re obese. I’m pretty sure that every smoker knows that they’re smoking. Awareness is not enough. As one of my colleagues, Mitch Axelrod, talks about in axiology is it’s attentiveness. It’s not knowledge. It’s action. It’s not awareness. It’s attentiveness in action. You could be aware of issues in your life. I was totally aware that before I went to sleep or after dinner, I’d have a couple of glasses of wine. I was aware of that. I was also aware that after I’d have a couple of glasses of wine, I’d be like voraciously hungry. It would adjust my blood sugar. I’d eat anything. It was like in the ‘60s and ‘70s having the munchies. I’d go, “Let’s see what we have. We have sardines. We have chocolate syrup. Let’s eat that.” I get so hungry. I’ll eat anything.
I was aware that I would drink the wine at night and be hungry. I wasn’t attentive to it. When I became attentive to it was when I said, “I either have to have some carrots or cut up celery or cucumber or something that I’ll want to munch on, but it’s going to be okay for me to eat before I go to sleep. Selling things like that are examples of the illuminate model and action. You’ve got to face it. You’ve got to follow it. Take action and fix it. It’s so simple. I’m almost embarrassed that the model is as simple as it is. When you get the number of results that we get from huge companies that they blend in Chief Illumination Officers into their corporation. People who are going around facilitating open, loving, vulnerable, authentic dialogue on people being able to illuminate the negative in a positive light saying, “We might have a problem here and I’m not complaining. I want to bring it up so we might be able to brainstorm how we could follow it and fix it.” That creates a culture of growth and development.
I don’t watch the news or read the news, but I got something on my email about General Motors and some ignition crazy situation where another car blew up. They’re going to have another gazillion dollar settlement and it’s all because they didn’t allow for a culture to illuminate because they did have people that know what was going on. They did have people who said, “We’ve got problems,” but their culture said, “Go back to work. We don’t need that right now. We’ve got things we need to do. We’ll take care of this sometime.” They went into denial. They didn’t illuminate. They didn’t face it. Follow it and see what was causing this initial problem. How might we be able to engage some resources to fix it? It would have saved not only money, but it would have saved freaking lives because they didn’t have the culture of illuminate.
I’m glad you brought that up because this is what I was thinking too. The first part is the hardest, which is the facing it. What are some of the challenges that you’ve seen and how do you help people to face it? That’s probably the biggest hurdle.
Jot down two things that you’re not facing in your business or life that if and when you do and that you’re aware of it, you get parking on, it’s going to shift your productivity, profitability, success, happiness or whatever. What are two things you’re not facing? Most people go, “I don’t know.” I say, “If you did know, write down those two.” They always find two. One of those two I can assure you because they leverage points to their accomplishments of success, happiness, freedom, health, ego, peace of mind or whatever it is. I begin with the question, “What is it that I’m not facing that’s holding me back?” That is the starting point to greatness. It changes it almost like from objectivity to subjectivity and subjectivity to objectivity. It automatically goes, “That’s right.”
Often, they’ll go right back to sleep at the wheel and not think about it. I take it the next step and say, “Let’s look at that and let’s follow that into the future. If you keep living that way, what’s going to happen?” People start getting a visceral experience of, “I don’t want that to happen.” Two years ago, I weighed 189 pounds. That’s obese for a guy who is 5’5.5″. I knew it but until I followed it into the future and realized, “I’m not going to have the retirement I want with health. I’m not going to be able to continue to play tennis. I’m not going to have this. I’m probably going to get that,” until you look at the implications. Number one is you ask yourself, “What am I not facing it?” The next step is follow it into the future. Carry that into the future, “What’s your life going to be like?” People go, “Crap,” and then follow it back. “What’s causing it?” “I’m drinking wine late at night or maybe I’m going out to dinner with friends, meetings and speaking at events and they have all this great free food. I go crazy with it.” An answer to your question, they asked themselves, “What am I not facing?”
Whatever way works best for you is to, “What do you need to face?” This is very powerful stuff, David. I love the fact that you say you’re almost embarrassed that it’s too simple. It needs to be simple. It helps us when we have a simple three-step process to follow that you can use anywhere at any level of complexity and it works.
It is simple but what motivates people when I’m speaking with them is stories and examples of how individuals and organizations have used the illumination model and generated literally hundreds of millions of dollars, probably collectively over $1 billion. It’s all about if you face, for example, lack of profitability in an organization and then you follow it and you go, “It’s probably because there’s no loyalty from our clients. They buy whoever is going to be the price preferable and there’s no loyalty. They follow it and go, “Why don’t we have that loyalty?” They go, “We don’t treat them in a way that’s going to give them any a connection or a bond or any Mojo connection ready or any loyalty. You say, “What if you could change that?” They go about fixing it. You see companies literally quadrupling their profits by using that model.
Asking yourself, What is it that I'm not facing that's holding me back? is the starting point. Click To Tweet You go, “Yes, it’s simple,” but we’re grateful that it’s simple because the results are outstanding. The takeaway for any reader is to make that short list. Once you have that short list, look at the ramifications of not taking action. Look at the ramifications of not taking action. Look at the situation, look at the problem, and look at the implications of that. If you looked at the implications of that, then you’re motivated to move away from that. I showed the Challenger Explorer blow up in the sky and it didn’t have to happen. I showed pictures of the astronauts who died, sons and daughters and mothers and children and fathers and sisters and they all died and they didn’t have to. It’s because the culture at NASA wouldn’t allow for the illumination process.
I showed the papers that show that indeed they knew what the problems were, but instead of illuminating the negative, they decided to eliminate the negative and ignore it. It doesn’t have to be that way. If I were a reader I would say, “I got it. I am motivated. I am now going to make a list of some of the things that I’ve been denying or that I’ve been suppressing or that I’ve been hiding and eliminating. I’m going to put them up there and I’m going to commit myself to illuminate. I ask myself, “What is it that I’m not facing? I’m going to face it. I’m going to follow it. To the extent that I can, I’m going to fix it.”
I want to point out, not everything could be fixed. It might be mitigated, modified or contained but it can all be fixed. I may not have any of the resources of time and money and even know how to fix it, but I don’t want it to get lost. I want to keep it on the grease board. Put it on the flip chart for when we do create those resources, we get our butts to work and do that. I’m not breeding a community that says only bring me problems that you have a solution for. I think about some of the interviews that I’ve had because I love talking with people like yourself. You’re the real deal. You not only believe in what you do, you do what you do and you create tools for other people to have that level of productivity that you have. That’s the sign of greatness. I was interviewed by a great interviewer at Oprah Radio. They said, “This sounds cool but how does this model apply to the family?” They thought it stumped me. I said it’s simple. Picture this, here’s a family and they’ve got a fourteen-year-old or fifteen-year-old daughter and she is doing pretty good in school. She’s good on the soccer team. The kid comes home on a Friday night and she’s acting a little strange, not herself. A little moody and her breath smells a little bit. I don’t know what it smells like.
What I’m going to do is I’m going to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. She’s doing well in school. She’s good at soccer. I’ll let it slide. The same thing happens on Saturday night. She doesn’t seem to be herself, but she’s doing well. They accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative instead of illuminating it. It turns out that what happens is the kid ends up drinking, maybe going into drugs or whatever, all because the parents kept their head in the sand. They went crazy. It’s a perfect example. What we want to do is we would accentuate the positive. She’s doing well in school, doing well in soccer but let’s eliminate the negative. I don’t think she’s herself. What’s going on? Sit down, talk to us and now you’re confronting. You’re facing it for crying out loud. They got it. I know you get it too.
Everybody gets it because what’s important to understand is the strategies are cross-contextual. What works in one area of your life very often you may not apply it in another area of your life but it works. This is a framework, a process that is going to work in any context.
It’s cross-contextual, is that what you’re saying?
That’s some fancy terminology. Years ago, my business partner, Brian Tracy, a wonderful speaker, and thought leader. We developed a program. Instead of it being time management, it was called life management, which then was profound because it was in the words of the great philosopher, Penny Zenker, cross-contextual. I love that term. I put my pinky out when I say that because that’s pretty perfect. I would remind everyone, in an organization or otherwise, if there is an issue or a challenge, ask yourself, “Is this a challenge that’s worth looking at?” Asking yourself what are the ramifications? That’s part of the part of the following it. They say, “Choose your poison and choose your battles.”
We all suck until we don't. Click To Tweet Some issues or problems aren’t worth fixing and putting your time and attention to. Just like certain businesses aren’t big enough to do. I believe we suck until we don’t. Our job is to remove the sucky factor from our lives and reveal the genius, brilliance and the magnificence that is us. My book is called From WTF to OMG (W A Bit of LOL). How many of us have gone from WTF, “What the Fahrvergnügen is that about?” to OMG, “Oh, my God. That is perfect. I can’t believe I missed that.” There are so many people we meet that we don’t like, situations that happened and we go, “What the ford is going on here?” Then we realize, “That’s why. How perfect is that? Oh, my God.”
We all suck until we don’t. That’s the whole process of measuring where you’re at on the core functions of your business and your life. Getting really serious, rating yourself on a scale of one to ten where you’re a three. Acknowledge that. You’re not so good. One is you suck and ten is mastery where you’re a three, four, or five and where you’re at eight, nine, and ten. You accentuate the positive goal and you pat yourself on the back. We’re three, four or five, you illuminate the negative and say, “I’m going to close the gap and I’m going to be a six.” It feels so good to do that, to close the gap and to get better incrementally. It feels so good. Your self-esteem is so tied into that performance gap closure. It’s great.
Where they could find out more information about you? If you’ve got any other programs that you’d like to let people be aware of? I know they’d like to hear more from you and about you.
The book is called Preventing Brand Slaughter because they don’t know what their brand is, but I want to say whether they know or don’t know what their brand is, they don’t always live in accordance with it. They’re either building their brand or they’re killing it. Brand Slaughter is a book. I’m going to be doing a new mastermind program. It’s tele and in person mastermind and mentoring program where they’ll meet at my personal home in San Diego for a full day. We meet on the phone beforehand. I’m only taking eighteen people into that program. I’ll be telling people about it at CEO Space where I’m on faculty and which is where I know you attend. That will probably fill up, but if anybody’s interested, they can reach me at David@DavidCorbin.com. Other than that, I don’t promote anything. I will just be who I will be. I track people happily and mentor magnificent people. I live a good life.
If there are any of those spaces left, you’re going to want to grab those because I mentioned earlier a comment from one of my mentors. I have many mentors. You’ve mentored me in the past at CEO Space. I love that coming back to the real is I always knew that any feedback that you would give me in any of our discussions we’re going to be real. You were going to go to the core and serve me. I know that anybody in this program is going to be well-served to be mentored and coaching together with you. Definitely contact David. He’s awesome. You’ve heard it here. He’s funny. He’s fun to be with and also very productive. David, thank you so much for being here and illuminating the audience on your program and the process because it was valuable for the people who are reading.
It’s my pleasure, Penny. Keep doing the good work.
- David Corbin
- Illuminate-Harnessing the Power of Negative Thinking
- Think and Grow Rich
- Preventing Brand Slaughter
- CEO Space
About David Corbin
David has been known as the “mentor to mentors”. His view is that the mentor comes into the life of the protégé a the right time and for the right reasons- usually for the purpose of sharing from a deep well which is filled with experiences, ideas, principles and associations, which are being transferred to the protégé through the mentor for the purpose of their achieving their greatness.