Positive practice will change your life and the lives of those you lead. I’m not talking about working harder or even smarter. I’m talking about working differently. Most leaders are intelligent and work long days. However, you can’t win today’s game with yesterday’s game plan, even if you’re willing to put in a lot of hours to do it. To win in the new workplace, leaders have to do a much better job of helping every member of their team practice being more optimistic so they can successfully compete in a world that’s constantly changing.
In any activity where performance matters, high-performing leaders and teams practice. In fact, the proverb practice makes perfect has been identified as one of the most popular sayings in America. The original Latin version from the 1500’s was ‘uses promptos facit’ meaning ‘use makes perfect.’ However, the latest research on what it takes to excel reveals it’s not the amount of time you spend practicing that really matters. Simply repeating a task will not help you win the game you want to play and, in many cases, frequency just reinforces bad habits.
Whether you’re a business leader, parent or an aspiring athlete, it’s essential that you practice being positive during your day and help each member of your team do the same thing. Reaching your goals in business and life has very little to do with natural ability or being born with a unique talent. The foundation of your success will always be authentic optimism.
Fortunately, anyone can learn to be more optimistic. Unfortunately, if you don’t intentionally help the individuals on your team or in your family develop the habit of being positive, the world will train them to be pessimists.
Here are five positive practices that will help you and the people you lead stay up when your world tries to get you down. Implementing at least one of these ideas every day will help you be a more positive leader. Asking those you lead to join you will help you build a more positive team.
It’s important to refrain from multi-tasking when doing these positive practices. (Remember, the definition of multi-tasking is being able to mess up more than one thing at a time.)
Positive Reflection: Take 15 minutes every morning, afternoon and evening to reflect on what went well during that time. Our days can get so filled with fire fighting that it’s hard to remember what’s working in our world.
Positive Emotions: The easiest way to be positive is to intentionally create experiences that create positive emotions for ourselves and others. Barbara Fredrickson, author of Positivity, discovered the following 10 emotions are essential to our health and well-being: Joy, Gratitude, Serenity, Interest, Hope, Pride, Amusement, Inspiration, Awe, and Love.
Be Generous and Kind: Research suggests that small acts of generosity and kindness have a positive impact on the quality of our life and work. Holding the door or elevator for a stranger, letting someone in line, offering to help a person in need, are just a few of the little positive actions that will strengthen your positivity muscles. It has also been proven that just witnessing an act of generosity or kindness creates positive benefits for the people observing and influences them to do something nice for someone else.
Tell Positive Stories: We talk to ourselves and others all day long. The only question is whether our conversation is focused on the positive or negative aspects of our work and life. One of our greatest powers is to choose our focus. I’m not suggesting we put our head in the sand and ignore reality. Positive leaders are creators…not critics. When you get in the habit of telling yourself and others positive stories, you start to look for and create good news. The difficult people and problems in our world don’t go away. It’s just that building positive relationships and results is more important. When someone asks you how you’re doing, tell them a positive story about something that has inspired you and ask them to do the same.
Create Small Wins: Every time you tell yourself you’re going to do something positive and you do what you say you wanted to do, you’re building your positivity muscles. You just feel better when you keep your word. Each day, we have hundreds of little moments of truth where we take action consistent with what we value or we make up an excuse as to why ‘this time’ it doesn’t really matter. Little wins add up to big victories. Each evening, identify your top priority for the next day. Just pick one important project you want to finish. It’s also necessary to select the virtues you want to guide your actions. Virtue is defined as moral excellence. Remember, the ends do not justify the means. As a positive leader, you have to be an example of what to do and how to do it. Optimism is a virtue. Some other common leadership virtues include: Caring, Cooperation, Ethical, Faith, Forgiveness, Humility, Self-discipline, Wisdom, and Love.
The people you need to engage, influence and encourage can dramatically change the quality of their work and life by adding a little positive practice to their daily routines, but most individuals can’t do it alone. They need you as their leader and coach to help them develop the habit of being more optimistic when asked to create positive change.
I’m positive, nothing you do as a leader or parent will be more important than helping others learn to be optimistic. Start your positive practice today.
Let’s Get Better. Together! Bill Durkin