Leadership

Billionaire Richard Branson reveals the simple trick he uses to live a positive life

British billionaire Richard Branson sprays the mothership with champagne as his Mother Eve Branson ducks.
Al Seib | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images
British billionaire Richard Branson sprays the mothership with champagne as his Mother Eve Branson ducks.

"Positivity breeds positivity," according to self-made billionaire Richard Branson.

In a recent blog post, Branson reveals the simple trick he uses to live a positive life: reframing his questions.

"In most circumstances," writes the Virgin Group founder, "asking a question in a positive manner generates a better response."

He gives this example: "'Preacher, preacher can I smoke while I'm praying?' Answer: no. 'Preacher, preacher can I pray whilst I'm smoking?' Answer: Of course you can."

"It's how you ask the question," Branson explains. The entrepreneur points out that he built three successful airline companies even though there were already previously existing options for customers. However, in launching those companies, the Virgin team never focused on the negative aspects of other airlines or asked customers questions like, "Are you sick of the competition?"

Instead of focusing on everything that other airlines were doing wrong or doing poorly, his team took a more positive approach. They asked potential customers what they look forward to when flying, what they want from an airline and also highlighted their unique offerings.

"Positive thinking is [an] incredibly powerful tool," says Branson. "Simply put: positive, proactive behaviour spurs positive, proactive behaviour."

The billionaire notes that a majority of the world's most successful people have a positive outlook.

For example, billionaire investor Warren Buffett is another optimistic person and those around him can attest to this.

Melinda Gates wrote in a 2017 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation annual letter addressed to Warren Buffett that optimism is a huge asset.

"We see this in you, Warren. Your success didn't create your optimism," wrote Gates. "Your optimism led to your success."

Top business executives have also alluded to the fact that positive thinking leads to success.

At a recent Adweek panel, executives from consumer food company General Mills, media companies Good and Upworthy and a professor of psychology agreed that people who are optimistic are more likely to work hard to achieve their goals.

In his post, Branson explains that he abides by the following Winston Churchill quote: "The pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."

"Positive people don't just have a good day; they make it a good day," adds Branson.

To ensure that he has a successful day, the billionaire reveals that he does 5 things:

  1. He wears a smile at all times
  2. He looks for opportunities to see the good in the world
  3. He approaches problems in a proactive manner
  4. He phrases comments and conversations to reflect positive outcomes
  5. He leads with yes rather than no

"People who think positively usually see endless possibilities," writes Branson, "and empower others to feel the same, and in turn move the world forward."

The first step is to simply find a positive slant in every question, he writes. "If you display a positive outlook, you will find that people will gravitate towards you, and go out of their way to help you succeed."

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