You have probably heard of the "power of positivity" in some form to move through life and cope with what gets in your way. Around three months after a devastating global health crisis, your positive reserves may be running low.
Negativity will not help the situation. Should we all approach life a little more neutrally? This is the attitude that quarterback Russell Wilson of Seattle Seahawks took in a TED talk he gave this week as part of TED 2020, the popular speaker series that has become virtual this year.
Anyone who has ever watched Wilson play football and admire his ability to seemingly never give up and try endlessly to gather his teammates knows that he has come up with something that goes beyond personal belief in his own physical abilities. Wilson attributes what is going on in his head and what his limb and crawling legs are up to.
And the approach it takes can be applied beyond the football field, especially today when so many are affected by the pandemic and the economic consequences. The entrepreneurial mindset and often celebrated “startup mentality” are being tested across Seattle and beyond. Wilson was there with his own company, which failed to defeat the social media giants.
“Mindset is an ability. It can be taught and learned. I started training my mind 10 years ago, ”said Wilson, his mental conditioning trainer Trevor Moawad teaches "neutral thinking" and a non-judgmental acceptance of the present moment to keep the focus in high pressure situations.
Although Wilson is inherently positive, positivity doesn't always work. He experienced the highest ups – moving in as a baseball player, winning a Super Bowl and starting a family with Ciara – and the lowest lows – the death of his father, the loss of a Super Bowl, and divorce at a young age.
For fans who think they took Seattle's loss to the Patriots in the Super Bowl XLIX a little harder than Wilson, because the QB was composed after such a big loss, “neutral thinking” might sound about as good as one Passing game from the 1 yard line.
"Does that mean I don't have any emotions? Absolutely not," said Wilson. "But you have to focus on the moment. It's okay to have emotions but not to be emotional."
After that loss, he said he had a decision to make whether he would let his career and life be determined. We all deal with sadness, depression, worry, fear and loss. Wilson chose another way to deal with it.
"Positivity can be dangerous, but whatever works is negativity," said Wilson. "I never want to live in negativity, so I've stayed neutral … I've been living there ever since."
Wilson's lecture was part of a focus on resetting TED 2020 values. Other speakers included filmmaker and activist Abigail Disney; Journalist and satirist Adeola Fayehun; Songwriter Rufus Wainwright; and psychology professor Barry Schwartz. A summary of their discussions is on the TED blog.