Staying positive has been tricky for many over the last year, as we’ve been thrown challenges hitherto unseen for business leaders and CEOs across the globe.
It’s unlikely that these changes look exactly the same from one business to the next. But it is undeniable that the leaders who have one particular thing in common are the ones whose businesses have not only “survived” coronavirus so far, but possibly even thrived.
In an economic climate like this, there is nothing so important as positivity. For CEOs and business leaders in particular, it is a very powerful thing, and the focus of our founder’s book, “Positive Leaders, Positive Change”.
Available now, the book takes an in-depth look at the effect that positivity can have on any business in any place, at any time. These practices and ways of thinking are not solely appropriate during a worldwide pandemic, but will be wildly beneficial throughout the new normal on the other side, and far beyond.
There are several important topics to know about and work into your life if you want any real hope of making positive change in your business, including:
In this blog, we’ll touch on each of these fascinating and pivotal matters, to help you set yourself up for a more successful future, and show you what staying positive is all about.
But to start, it’s helpful to understand exactly what this “positivity” that we keep mentioning actually is.
Thousands of studies demonstrate the physical benefits of positivity. From prevention of clinical depression, to lower blood pressure, greater mobility and even a higher pain threshold, positivity can have quite the effect.
But is it a simple matter of being born an optimist? Or of thinking happy thoughts? No. No, it is not.
A true optimist wasn’t necessarily born that way (though of course, a natural disposition to positivity always helps). In reality, every individual in the world is born with the seeds of opportunity for positivity. It is a learned behaviour that truly can change businesses and lives.
You see, a real optimist isn’t in standstill. Their relationship with the world around them, and the business they work in, is dynamic. They don’t simply think happy thoughts or “see the good in everything”. They proactively push positives into their environment, and onto the people around them too.
They hone their way of thinking and their businesses, career prospects and personal lives all improve as a result.
There is great benefit in choosing to have a positive mental attitude, and seeing the best in every situation. But if you are doing it with hindsight, or having to consciously force yourself to think this way, you miss out on the true power of positivity.
The trick is to get to a place where positivity is no longer a choice, but rather an unconscious experience. When you are in a genuinely positive state, there is no need to force yourself to feel one way; it will come naturally. How do you achieve it? Through learned behaviours and practices that condition your unconscious responses.
The thing is, humans spend most of their time in the conscious mind. So it will take some effort on your part to make the changes that will put all the power in the hands of your unconscious mind. And be under no illusion: there are two sides to your brain.
While similar, these two systems are indeed distinct; one is faster, the other slower. The slower system is the one that manifests in processes that are intentionally controlled, without taking shortcuts. But our brains prefer to rely on the quick system, since it’s the one that reduces cognitive effort as far as possible.
The quick system prioritises strong signals (like loud noises), threatening signals, appetite-related signals (like hunger) and, most interestingly, the things we expect to see.
So if one is “naturally negative” or in a negative state, they will notice more negatives in any given situation, since their quick system is looking out for them, or “expecting” them.
With simple exercises and a dedicated approach, you can learn to reframe situations to look at them from a different, more positive point of view. The more often you use these reframing techniques, and the more you harness the power of your unconscious mind, the more synaptic and biochemical changes you will experience in your nervous system. These changes are genuinely crucial for building resilience.
And the more resilient you are, the better your team will perform and the better chance your business will have at thriving, rather than surviving.
By showing resilience in your role and instilling the same characteristic in your people, you can experience:
In this positive, resilient state, the cerebral cortex is fully engaged, allowing you to deploy all of your intellect, heighten your analytical skills, create positive expectations and reach better solutions and decisions quickly.
In this way, resonant leadership (or “leading with grace”) will yield undeniable benefits in your workplace. And there really is no complex formula that creates a successful leader.
It is nothing to do with being kind or being strict. Rather, it is about being a leader that people want to follow.
For CEOs and business leaders who want genuine and long-lasting success, it is imperative to manage your teams by triggering their own positive emotions; they must feel respected, confident, safe and inspired in your presence.
It is not enough to be merely likeable or kind, and it is certainly not resonant leadership if you aren’t able to be tough through a challenge. Instead, you must display genuine warmth and optimism to everyone and, just as importantly, do your own job to the highest of standards.
But show favouritism or fail to be fair and your hard work could unravel around you. There really is no room for the effects of conscious or unconscious favouritism in business leadership.
Of course, it’s a highly challenging issue and it is easy to have such favourites. But if you constantly test and retest your views of people, regularly analysing your own perceptions, you will be far better equipped for a positive culture of fairness.
And the more open your workplace, the more courageous your staff will be, with more faith in their own abilities and greater self-esteem. As you yourself practice the power of positivity, you will instil confidence in those around you at the same time as becoming more confident as a leader yourself.
In this way, your motivated, positive team will manifest Zest in their day-to-day, and your business will come out of any challenge fighting.
To lead with grace and instil Zest, you must continue to work on that resilience that we mentioned earlier. So how do you do it?
You make the conscious choice to build up the positive pathways for your brain processes, so much so that positivity becomes your unconscious state. With enough practice, goal-realising behaviour will become automatic and you will be able to remain positive during any setback, no matter how big or how small.
Envisage these setbacks before they happen (before they even show potential for happening), practice taking the positive pathway and you will give your brain the conditioning it needs to continue functioning well under emotional hijack.
Furthermore, practice positive self-talk to become the version of yourself that you aspire to be; the resonant leader. There are several examples of how to do this in “Positive Leaders, Positive Change”, including avoiding snake words, cutting out throwaway comments, developing a positive script and upgrading your responses to everyday questions.
Even with all the willpower in the world, you won’t realise true success in business unless you do indeed rehearse this more positive way of thinking until it becomes second nature. Willpower is not enough to prepare you for a stressful situation.
By changing your mindset and laying the foundations for your own resilience now, you will be able to lead your team with grace through any challenge; whether that’s during the slow return to normal, or whether that’s at some point years from now.
The more positive your thinking, the less you will be affected by stress and the more you will demonstrate persistence and success when faced with any setback. Take a look at our other blog posts for more pointers to help you hone your positivity.
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