Saturday, 18 September 2010 19:50


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Tina Turner asks “What’s love got to do with it?” in her hallmark song. I’ve had coaching clients who repeatedly argue the connection between optimism and increasing their success in the same plaintive tones. Using my best Emotional Intelligence training, I explain that optimists are people who look at the brighter side of life, and maintain a positive attitude, even in the face of adversity. “Oh that”, they say, “doesn’t matter, as long as I get the work done.” Really?

Wouldn’t you rather work with an optimist? Wouldn’t you rather surround yourself with a team of optimists? When the chips are down, who would you more likely turn to?

Optimism reflects the degree of hopefulness that one incorporates in his or her life. Optimism gives people the power to tackle challenges head on, as their mindset allows them to focus more on possibilities rather than consequences. Some of us are optimistic by nature, but the good news is that we can learn to be more optimistic.

Optimism DOES matter. Our workplaces are not the most optimistic environments these days.  According to some fascinating research from DDI (Development Dimensions International), the average American spends 15 hours a month criticizing or complaining about his/her boss.  In the face of these tough economic times, nearly everyone feels unsettled, overworked, under-appreciated, and perhaps a bit insecure.

There’s plenty of adversity to go around. That reality makes optimism a critical skill to have, as it often separates “star performers” from others in our workplace. Optimism is also essential when working in groups or with cross-functional teams. Having an optimistic outlook is often contagious and it will have a positive impact on coworkers’ performance. By showing a passion and optimism for your work, group members will see your resilience toward challenges.

Here’s a few strategies to ramp up your optimism:

  1. It’s about choice. Choose to view setbacks as temporary, not permanent. Do not repeat or ruminate on negative thoughts.
  2. Avoid dwelling on negative past experiences. If you face a difficult situation, determine the cause, take corrective action and move forward. Too much obsessing about the past can paralyze you –just when acting is most needed.
  3. Focus on positive outcomes for future behavior.
  4. Get that optimistic mood in play! Think about past successes, then “Fake it ‘til you make it!”

Please contact me for more Optimism strategies or info about Emotional Intelligence. I’d love to talk to you about the Bar-On EQi and EQ360 assessments. For a deeper read on this topic, I recommend Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life, by Martin P. Seligman. Ph.D.

"Happiness is easy, but learning not to be unhappy, can be difficult." ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer



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