Positive Leadership – A snapshot!

Sean and Laura Cooper

Sean Cooper Laura CooperMy husband was recently accused of bullying…. By our six-year-old daughter. Laura came home from school telling me how she learned all about bullying at School. Later that evening when my husband, very respectfully I might add, asked her to put her pyjamas on for bed, she turned around, put her hands on her hips (with all the theatrics of an indignant six-year-old) and said “Stop bullying me Dad!” You can see by the picture how strained their relationship is. LOL. 

Generally, in our society, we focus on the problem not the solution. Teaching children about bullying gives them a vocabulary that expands their thoughts in that direction. Every three hours, one person in Australia chooses to end their own life, that’s approximately 8 people a day and is greater than our National road toll, tragically, in 2015 our suicide rate was close to three times that of our road toll.

Mental illness is a huge problem, but clearly education around mental illness isn’t working to reduce the numbers. What we need is positive leaders, we need to arm people with a positive vocabulary and support people to focus on what’s good and what’s right. Each of you are leaders, within your business, your family and your community. Today I want to share how to become more positive in every aspect of your life.

Focus on the good

It’s not rocket science, what you focus on you get more of, yet, when was the last time you walked through your business, home or community and genuinely took notice of things that are working well? Our brains are hard wired to notice negatives, it’s called the negativity bias and was designed to aid our flight or fight response and keep us alive. Essentially, we’ll pay three times the attention to a negative emotion than a positive, so unfortunately, the same level of attention goes to a full inbox as a charging lion, leaving us acutely aware of all our failings or misfortunes, but often blind to our blessings.

Make a conscious effort this week to notice the positives. We know from Barbara Fredrickson’s work that we need to create a 3:1 ratio of positive emotions to negative. So, make sure you stack the positives, ask your co-workers what went well before you start the meeting, encourage your kids to find three good things about their friends or ask your partner over dinner about three positives in their day.

Bring Emotional intelligence to work

Everyone is busy, and the busier we get the harder it becomes to focus on what’s important. Imagine a colourful umbrella, where each coloured section represents a different thought in your mind. As you become busier, the umbrella begins to spin, there is no way you can focus, your productivity diminishes and just trying to keep up becomes exhausting and frustrating. I know, that’s the way most of us work, but there’s a better way.  We need to slow down, to stop the umbrella spinning and take a few moments to refocus on what’s important.

Try taking three deep breaths right now. You’ll notice on the third breath out there’s a glimpse of clarity, the umbrella has stopped spinning, and you have the opportunity to harness that positive energy and focus on what’s important. The more regularly we take mindful moments, weather at work or at home, the more present and engaged we become in our lives and the people around us.

Foster Positive Deviance

You possibly consider yourself a positive person, but a positive deviant, what’s that? A positive deviant is an individual that goes beyond the general level of positivity that’s considered normal to consciously create more positivity. They might regularly compliment strangers, leave $5 at a café for the next person’s coffee, or offer support to a co-worker in a time of need. All of these things are designed to inspire and lift peoples’ spirits.

Think of doing 5 random acts of kindness each day, that’s a positive deviant! It’s building up others faith in mankind and showing them that kindness still exists and that there is still so much in the world that is good and pure. As we become ever busier, many of us forget to notice the good, becoming a positive deviant is a great way to help others remember it and create an amazing ripple effect of positivity.

Great leaders bring out the best in others, but to do this you need to rewire your brain to focus on the positives, you must slow down in order to connect with others and you have to go above and beyond what’s expected of you in a positive way.

One study by Shawn Achor quoted in the Harvard Business Review showed that leaders who regularly supported others at work were ten times more likely to be engaged and are 40% more likely to receive a promotion. Positivity pays off in so many ways!  

The world needs positive leaders, people who will support others to be their best, who will promote the good and who can help build resilient, emotionally intelligent and positive human beings. The world will be a better place with you as a positive leader! Good luck!

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