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As you seek excellence and impact in your life, the conventional wisdom often emphasizes the importance of doing good, striving for success, and achieving greatness every day. However, what if I told you that the key to unlocking your full potential is based not in doing more good, but in avoiding bad at all cost? This might sound counterintuitive, but research suggests that bad is more powerful than good (The Power of Bad) and avoiding it should be your primary focus. To give you an example, a newspaper article with a negative title gets read 7 times more than one with the same content but with a positive title. The loss of 50$ invested sticks around in our mind for much longer than 50$ we won.

Psychological studies have long shown that negative experiences have a greater impact on our brains than positive ones. The financial loss, the betrayal, or feeling excluded from a group of friends sticks around a lot longer than a positive experience. This negativity bias means that we “force ourselves” to feel the pain of a negative comment, or a negative performance feedback more powerfully than we feel the joy for a compliment and an accomplishment. All human interactions are biased toward the negative and we tend to notice negative things and later remember them more durably regardless of the subject. What I also noticed is, that in today’s over-digitized lives, a message, or a social media post that does not get an immediate response, generates negative thoughts, anxiety, and loss of confidence. All of this influences our decision making and our wellbeing.

If we focus on avoiding bad, including the typical self-negative talk we all experience, we unleash a powerful force that we can use towards producing daily positive outcomes which ultimately can lead to incremental positive momentum. By removing negative influences, gossip, EGO, negative self-talk and time wasters,  we free up energy, time, and focus that can be redirected towards productive endeavors.

Consider, for example, the story of Taylor Swift, who is not only a talented musician but also a renowned philanthropist. One of the reasons for her success is her ability to avoid bad influences and negativity at all costs. Instead of getting caught up in drama and controversy, and gossip she focuses on her music, her fans, the people that work for her and even the anonymous people that can bring better to her life and her community. She channels her energy towards creating positive experiences and meaningful connections. She also empowers and rewards financially those people around her that nobody notices.

Similarly, in the business world, successful companies often attribute their achievements to their ability to avoid bad decisions and harmful practices. By prioritizing risk management and resiliency, and stakeholders engagements, these companies are able to maintain a strong reputation, build customer trust, and ultimately achieve long-term market leadership.

So, how can you apply this principle to your own life and work?

Start by identifying the negative influences, people and bad habits that are holding you back. Don’t forget that it all starts with the people, and we tend to become the average of the 5 people we spend most time with. Whether it’s toxic relationships, self-doubt, or procrastination, make a conscious effort to eliminate these obstacles from your life.

Next, focus on creating a positive environment that supports your goals and aspirations. Surround yourself with supportive and uplifting people, cultivate a growth mindset, and set clear and achievable goals for yourself.

Finally, remember that avoiding bad things is an ongoing process. Just as you wouldn’t expect to achieve mastery overnight, you shouldn’t expect to eliminate all negativity from your life at once. Instead, focus on making small, incremental changes and celebrate your progress along the way.

In conclusion, while doing good is important, avoiding bad is often more powerful and impactful. By removing negative influences from your life and focusing on positivity and growth, you can unleash your full potential and achieve mastery in whatever you pursue. Your mind can be your best friend or worst enemy, depending on how you relate to it. Just be aware that “our brain is very skilled at suppressing good news when it does not matter that much, but the brain is not very good at suppressing irrelevant bad news” (The Power of Bad).

As billionaire investor Charlie Monger used to say, “If you manage to stay cheerful when you are in trouble, you are going to come out ahead.”