Think Positive for Positive Results

We’ve all heard the saying about the glass being half empty or half full. Your answer to this question can have profound effects on your proposal group and your bottom line win rate!

About 20 years ago, I went through a divorce. It was the worst and most painful experience of my life. I lost two years grieving, feeling like a failure, and sitting on a real pity pot. My glass was completely empty.

Thanks to lots of counseling, pastoral support, and the love of friends, I came through that period and learned that I have a choice today – the choice to be happy! And when I am happy, those around me are happy. It has become one of my primary life goals – to be happy.

Studies have long shown that not only does success at work lead to individual satisfaction and happiness, but that happiness leads to successful outcomes at work.[1] From personal experience, I have seen that teams are happier when they have a happy leader. I am happier when I work for and with happy people.

Attitude is everything. I think proposals are fun. And when I convey that message – when I live it – they become fun for everyone in the company. I have found that a positive attitude makes people want to work on proposals. And that the bottom line, win rate, improves as well.

Organizations like Forbes suggest that to grow professionally, and think more positively of yourself, you should conduct a personal Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis. Just as you use the SWOT analysis to assess your company and your competition, the SWOT analysis can be used to reveal your own strengths and weaknesses, appreciate your personal assets, and find opportunities to be a more positive person.

I think we as Proposal and Capture Managers can use this tool to help us achieve a higher level of personal happiness, and consequently become better leaders – leaders of happy and successful proposal teams.

Conduct your SWOT analysis by making a 4-quadrant matrix and answering these questions in the 4 areas.

Strengths: What makes you feel good? What have you done that you are proud of? What do you do well? What differentiates you from others around you? Do you hold certain certifications? Have a skill you excel at? Are you a good facilitator? A good listener?

Weaknesses: What causes you to be unhappy or uncomfortable? Do you procrastinate? Have trouble speaking in front of groups? Do you have trouble with time management? What are your personal liabilities, or areas for growth?

Opportunities: What opportunities exist to make improvements and for you to grow and be more satisfied in your life and your job? Is there a class you would like to take? A hobby you would like to take up? A fun activity or sport that you have always wanted to try? How about a hot air balloon ride? What can be done to overcome your weaknesses? How can you make positive changes?

Threats: What obstacles stand in the way of your happiness? Which do you have the power to change and which are outside your control? To be happy, you must work to avoid, accept, or let go of those threats that you have no control over. And work to change the others in positive ways.

Tip: MindTools provides a Personal SWOT Analysis Worksheet at this link: . Or you can make your own.

The SWOT analysis can help you better understand your strengths and to manage your weaknesses. It also reveals opportunities for growth and reveals what may be standing in the way of your happiness.

Use the results to identify steps you can take to be happier – both professionally and personally.

Individuals often use SWOT analyses when they are making a career change. I suggest using the SWOT analysis to make improvements in yourself in your current job. Use this tool to find opportunities to become a more positive, happy leader of your proposal team. And in life!

Another positive image booster I use is to make a daily gratitude list. At the end of your day, take inventory of what went well that day. What are you grateful for? Keep track in a journal and refer to it when you are feeling down.

Good luck on your personal happiness journey! Keep smiling and keep the glass half full. Your team will, too.

by Maryann Lesnick, Managing Director at Lohfeld Consulting Group, CP APMP, PMP, CSM, MOS.

Lohfeld Consulting Group has proven results specializing in helping companies create winning captures and proposals.
As the premier capture and proposal services consulting firm focused exclusively on government markets, we provide expert assistance to government contractors in Go-to-Market Strategy, Capture Planning and Strategy, Proposal Management and Writing, Capture and Proposal Process and Infrastructure, and Training. In the last 3 years, we’ve supported over 550 proposals winning more than $135B for our clients—including the Top 10 government contractors. Lohfeld Consulting Group is your “go-to” capture and proposal source! Start winning by contacting us at and join us on LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter.

[1] Lyubomirsky, S., King, L., & Diener, E. (2005). The Benefits of Frequent Positive Affect: Does Happiness Lead to Success? Psychological Bulletin, 131(6), 803-855.