When I’m working with leaders to identify their most important development needs, issues like “lack of confidence” or “low self-esteem” are surprisingly common. Typically these come to the fore when new challenges or transitions are faced. By putting a stop to negative thinking and learning to view things from a positive perspective, many of these men and women have experienced profound impacts on both their health and work life.
Essentially, optimism means taking positive action to overcome setbacks rather than accepting defeat. When you learn to view challenges or failures as learning experiences, you’ll teach yourself strategies and coping skills that can boost your ability to keep you happy, healthy and productive.
Optimism Can be Learned
Here are some tips to help you learn to see the bright side of any cloud:
1. Look for the benefit in every situation, especially when you experience setbacks.
2. Seek the valuable lesson in every problem or difficulty – remember there are no mistakes, only lessons.
3. Banish negative self-talk. Really. This stuff is toxic. Instead, learn to recognize the triggers to this type of talk so that you can learn to redirect your thoughts in a positive direction.
4. When you find you are beating yourself up with negative self-talk or worry, stop and say, “No” and then revisit things from an encouraging angle.
5. Choose to put a positive spin on it, whatever it is.
6. Never assume you can’t do something. Take issue with these beliefs.
7. Don’t take setbacks personally; take responsibility but recognize the impact of external factors and circumstances.
8. Think about your strengths and achievements and then write down some related affirmations, such as ‘I am capable’. Review these several times a day.
9. Practice reacting positively to new situations. In time, it will become a habit.
When it comes to leadership development and success, it is the “soft” stuff that is usually the root cause of the “hard” stuff. So next time you find yourself falling into a mental rut, do yourself a favor and give your optimism muscle a workout…and keep flexing!