Cut the Crap & Get Authentically Positive.

 

By Kris Carter.

Years ago I was stocking shelves in a gourmet grocery store to help finance our wedding. This was no ordinary store. West Point Market in Akron, Ohio is known throughout a 5-state radius for offering a world class shopping experience.

The owner, Russ Vernon, became my blueprint for what I call Authentic Positivity. Russ would glide through the aisles, overseeing operations, happily walking customers over to find whatever they need, and cracking jars open right from the shelf. Everyone deserved a taste of “the magic” we were selling.

Whenever he was asked, “How are you doing, Russ?” His default response was always: “Super-Duper!”

Every day, the cat rocked a bowtie and a blue blazer. He was in his late-sixties at the time. But whenever he blasted a “Super-Duper!” in your direction with his goofy, blazing smile, you knew he meant it.

You knew he lived it.

You knew unquestionably, that within every fiber of Russ’s being, he felt super. Actually he felt more than super. Roughly double that of standard super, or “Super- Duper”.

More importantly, that go-to response set a standard for me and the rest of my jaded, teenage colleagues. This was a guy who had no financial obligation to work harder than the rest of us, yet he did.

I remember thinking at the time, “why shouldn’t he feel great? He was born into a local grocery dynasty.” His Dad had opened the store 70 years earlier.

Only after a few years beyond the bubble of college and part-time work did I start to figure out how things really work.

Russ’s Dad didn’t build West Point Market into the legend it became, nor did Russ’s own work ethic. It was the unshakable mindset, or lens, that Russ cultivated, year in and year out.

A central theme of Shawn Achor’s The Happiness Advantage is that decades of dysfunction-obsessed psychological studies, and much of the self-help industry that blossomed in their wake, had it all wrong: Happiness does not orbit around success.  Meaning, you’re not going to wake up happy once you achieve your version of success.

Instead, all of the landmark studies since found the exact opposite: that success absolutely orbits around happiness.

When shoppers pack Russ’s aisles every holiday season, ogling over the decadent options, and sampling rare delicacies they’ve never dreamed of, their user-experience can typically be summarized as “super” (or one of its many synonyms).

The inspired user experience is a direct outcome of the inspired mindset that created it.

Russ wasn’t just positive for positive’s sake. He had methodically conditioned himself over the years to transcend not only hardships and setbacks, but also the status quo. What likely began as a coping mechanism to get through long days or preserve his father’s legacy, became the ultimate differentiator.

A lens that grandiose, audacious, and unapologetically super-dee-damn-duper can capture, refract, and project back to you incredible things. It can filter everything around it, whether good, bad, or neutral into a sense of possibility and wonder.

My grandfather had a similar lens. Maybe it was all the Depression-Era bootstrapping, or some ingrained idealism of Tom Brokaw’s Greatest Generation. Pops had an attitude that consistently, quite authentically projected: “I believe in everyone, and everything, all the time“.

In living a life of unwavering optimism Despite All Else, run-of-the-mill positivity deepens and solidifies into Authentic Positivity. Like anything worth committing to over the course of a lifetime (your faith, spouse, artistic expression, or vitality), Authentic Positivity is an ongoing practice.

Of course it will feel silly and contrived at first…

I’ve experimented with my own go-to responses for “How are you doing?”

“Marginally spectacular, thanks.”

“Basically invincible.”

“Fairly unstoppable, and you?”

Over the years, any hesitation or second-guessing has diminished. All we’re left with are the expectations of whatever is about to come out of our mouth, which are built off the last few-thousand interactions.

Make it count. Make it carry the potential to inspire the next generation of those you work with.

Like the fortunate few who crossed the paths of either my Grandfather or Russ Vernon, my hope is to create my own “user experience” for those who cross mine.

In doing this work, (yes, it most definitely is work) you begin to realize how we owe it to one another to shine our most authentic, positive beam as consistently as possible.

How do you respond when people ask how you’re doing?

 

*****



Kristoffer Carter (or “kc”) is a spiritual catalyst for individuals and culture catalyst for business. Husband, Father of 3, and National Director of Sales Engagement by day, KC also channels his hyper-creativity and rock energy into his blog: This Epic Life. His multi-media manifesto, The Framework is currently available for free on his site. KC’s bass playing has been featured in Bass Player Magazine and on NoTreble.com, and his family has graced the cover of Akron Life & Leisure magazine. In acknowledgement to the legendary work culture he helped create, KC’s employer Centro has been named the #1 Best Place to Work in Chicago by Crains Chicago Business for the past 2 years. You can connect with Kristoffer on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

*****

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16 Comments

  • Mamaste
    Mamaste commented on December 28, 2012 Reply
    This will be my mantra for the coming year, Chris. Thank you for this. Happy Holidays! ~ Mamaste
    • www.thisepiclife.com commented on December 28, 2012 Reply
      My pleasure, Mamaste. It’s the most basic, simple stuff that’s the most challenging to live out day to day. But sooooooo worth the effort. Much love. -kc
  • Ariane/The Force Expansive commented on December 28, 2012 Reply
    I absolutely LOVE this and am so grateful. Thank you for inspiring me to rock my Pollyanna self even more grandiosely in 2013, answering “Peachy!” or “Awesome!” every time I’m asked how I’m doing. Yes, it’s work, but of the very best kind. :)
    • Kristoffer Carter commented on December 28, 2012 Reply
      Hell yes, Ariane… It ain’t Pollyanna if it’s LEGIT. For added effect, pelt them with Skittles or follow up with a tacklehug. Seriously, it really IS work… but you’re right, it’s the very best kind. Much love, kc
  • Jim Fry
    Jim Fry commented on December 28, 2012 Reply
    To share deeply with those we are intimate with is important, if we seek to be authentic. This is where our challenges are best expressed and worked through. For everyone else, I am, “Peachy” … it sets the stage and tone. It also self programs in “fake it before you make it” style, which I find ok when done consciously.
    • kc @ This Epic Life commented on December 31, 2012 Reply
      Totally agree on the conscious “fake it til you make it”. We need to methodically drown out that inner critic who insists we’re fulla crap… until our authentic, positive beam becomes Not To Be Effed With. It’s just too undeniably LEGIT at that point. Thanks for the comment Jim! kc
  • madgroove commented on December 28, 2012 Reply
    GRRREAT story, and I’m doing inexplicably spiffy, thanks for asking =D I much like your responses as well. I really appreciate the fact that you took notice of all the Russ details that most missed or took for granted I’m sure, as well as took the time to go back and truly understand his journey. I really try to embrace this myself, but am still trying to erase negative/fearful thought patterns that always want to run the show. Maybe I’ll get there by Russ’s age….hopefully sooner.
    • kc @ This Epic Life commented on December 31, 2012 Reply
      Inexplicably Spiffy indeed, homes. That’s tight. I may have to completely rip that off. Hahaha. Love it. Yeah, our darker side is ever-present. You just gotta consciously show your immaculate, new-penny-brightness as often, and as consistently as possible. You’re already getting there, Spiffmeister. much love, kc
  • Tanya Lee Markul
    tanya lee markul commented on December 28, 2012 Reply
    Krissy boy — you KNOW I think you kick ass. You’re a magical wizard in human form. Happy to know you brother. Ultra love + sprinkled awesomeness. xoxoxo We want more of your lenses!
    • kc @ This Epic Life commented on December 31, 2012 Reply
      Hahaha, don’t ALL magical wizards come from Brunswick, OH? . Don’t answer that. Really love what you’re doing with RS girl. Pleasure to contribute. Your readers are Antennae-UP-Broken-In-The-On-Position types of people. MY PEOPLES. I’ll get you another piece this week. Thanks, and much love for a completely BANANAS 2013. kc
  • Tracy commented on December 28, 2012 Reply
    Such a powerful lesson. Thank you!
    • kc @ This Epic Life commented on December 31, 2012 Reply
      aweseome, glad you dug the reminder… nothing you didn’t already know tracy. thanks for the comment. much love, kc
  • Christopher commented on December 28, 2012 Reply
    I appreciate this lens: Whenever someone asks me how I’m doing, I can answer in a way that will affect them the rest of their lives. I will see it this way. Appreciate you.
    • kc @ This Epic Life commented on December 31, 2012 Reply
      If I knew ANYTHING about brevity Chris I could’ve brilliantly summarized the above 850 words with your comment. Awesome. I’m gonna steal this when people ask me what I’ve written about lately. Thanks brother. ;) kc
  • Melissa Smith
    Melissa Smith commented on February 22, 2013 Reply
    that success absolutely orbits around happiness. ~ yes, totally believe in that… the yes yes you can attitude is how I grew up… but sometimes, I just wanna say… yeah, I feel like crap, how are you?! keeping it real, you know? ;)
  • michael beck commented on February 22, 2013 Reply
    kc, nice, in fact, pretty darn super-dee-dang-duppery dude! though i don’t see happiness as a something that one puts on like a bow-tie in the morning. as i see it, the contrast(s) between high(s)n lows are what make bright days brilliant and dark days inspiration to make tomorrow cool. We who laugh easy cry easy too…

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