Our final two ingredients for leading with H.O.P.E. are positivity and energy. You’ll often find that these two magical components are linked together as positive energy, but we keep them separate to emphasize a clear distinction between them so that you can harness the power of both through an understanding of your relationship with each.
Needless to say, a positive mindset is a characteristic that we must possess if we want to be effective as leaders. But, don’t mistake positivity for an unrealistic outlook on the world. Worse yet, don’t paint reality to be more dismal than it truly is. Falling into either is too easy. The latter created by fear–our minds revert to the worst case scenario. And in an odd way, these misjudgements make us feel safe, providing an odd sense that impossibility equals less responsibility.
However, that’s the exact opposite of leading with positivity. Circumstances and situations are to be managed so that we can still reach our ultimate goal no matter what happens. We need to “trim our sail” to prevent the ship from capsizing in the storm. Gaining clarity about the situation and identifying clear next steps to move forward in a productive way are how we harness positivity within ourselves and others.
The connection that positivity has to energy lives within our self-talk. At its simplest form, a positive mindset begins with the way we address ourselves, which either produces an abundance of energy or takes it away in an instant.
The worst part of a stressful situation is that it zaps our energy. Stress creates a blockage in the brain. Our primal fight or flight response to a problem produces a surge in our cortisol levels that can put us in an unhealthy and unproductive state-of-mind. As difficult as it may be, this is the exact moment to look for an opportunity to learn and grow. It’s during these unwanted times that we need to be at our best, not fatigued, unable to rest, or anxious. When discomfort meets paralysis, we need to push past the negative thoughts that distract us from the sources of energy that we need to lead well.
Take the following challenge to evaluate your self-talk and maximize your ability to create positive thoughts and unprecedented levels of energy as a leader.
We can never underestimate how our view of the world impacts our daily performance. Our own self-talk regarding ourselves, others, and situations must be closely monitored so that we are in a resourceful and productive space. To lead at your best and grow in your role, you can’t just rely on your regular thinking; you must actually think about your thinking, putting metacognition at the forefront of everyday problem-solving scenarios.
- Reflect: Think about the words you use when you talk to yourself during tough times. Are they negative or positive? Do you see opportunities or do you default to road blocks.
- Identify: Words are powerful. Make a list of the defeating words that you use when a problematic situation arises. Be mindful that we rarely recognize how often we engage in negative thinking. The slightest daily issue can cause negative self-talk.
- Do: In a great article by Margaret Wehrenberg, she teaches us to use two powerful words: Until Now. For one day, evaluate your self-talk and when you find yourself engaging in defeating thoughts or negative self-talk, simply add, Until Now at the end of the sentence. I wasn’t able to… _______, until now.
Pro Tip: Create a Power Talk List to counter the negative things that you might say to yourself. Consider your daily work out as an example. Almost everyone we know has a desire to feel healthy and look good. Yet, often, when we’ve had a long day, especially mentally, we find yourself saying something like, “I’m too tired to exercise, I’ll do it tomorrow.” But, immediately replace that with another phrase to help you maintain the standards that you set for yourself. “I’ve worked hard today and I’m tired. Awesome. I am going to reinvigorate myself with a long run.” Or, “I thought I felt too tired to go for a run, until now!” Don’t allow yourself to think negatively by identifying something, like exercise, as a chore. The things that cost us the most energy are likely the ones that produce the highest levels of it as a result of doing them. Thinking positively about them produces energy when we need it most. Put exercise at the top of your Power Talk List and write down several other instances where you might need a boost of positive self-talk when you’re feeling low.
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