Reasons Why We Can and Must Learn the Skills of Optimism

We each have heard the term optimism. It’s not simply thinking positively. It’s a frame of reference, a story, of how we view the world and situations around us. Our language is so powerful in helping us tell our stories in our lives and can make a drastic difference is how one’s outcome is to a particular situation.

Here’s an example: If life could be graded, Anthony would give his an F. His work has been really stressful lately, his closest colleague has just left the company, he was transferred to another department, and he hates himself for the extra 50 pounds he’s carrying. Anthony feels hopeless and his life seems depressing and dark. Each setback reinforces his feelings of pessimism and grim certainty that nothing ever gets better. .

On the other hand, Barbara has many of the same struggles: her husband just lost his job, seven months after the birth of their first child. In addition to her full-time work responsibilities, she is responsible for her elderly mother, who is becomingly increasingly frail. To make things worse, her business has just had to let someone go so she is in the process of hiring again. Despite all this, Barbara gives her life a strong B+ and knows there are some A+ days ahead.

Unlike Anthony, Barbara sees her setbacks as temporary obstacles to be overcome. To her, crises are part of life, opportunities for her to gain in wisdom and courage and learn to navigate life’s journey.

Put simply, some people are optimists and others are pessimists. However, optimism isn’t an accident—it’s a SKILL that CAN BE LEARNED, one that can help us feel better and greatly improve our lives.

Martin Seligman, psychologist and clinical researcher, has spent 25 years studying optimism and pessimism. In his bestselling book, How to Change Your Mind and Your Life, he states that pessimistic thinking can undermine not just our behavior but our success in all areas of our lives.

“Pessimism is escapable,” he writes. “Pessimists can learn to be optimists.”

Optimism is not just a feel-good strategy. When we focus our attention on our innate character strengths (wisdom, courage, compassion) and all we have, rather than our perceived failures and what we don’t have, we boost not only our moods, but our immune system and success levels as well. Research has shown that optimistic people tend to be healthier and experience more success in life.

To alter our lives—and the challenges we face—we must first recognize what we say to ourselves when we experience a setback. By breaking what Seligman calls the “I give up” pattern of thinking and changing our interior negative dialogue, we can encourage optimism.

Practicing “spiritual optimism” is another way to improve the quality of our lives. Joan Borysenko, author of Fire in the Soul: A New Psychology of Spiritual Optimism, suggests that we remember that it takes courage to live, and that we can find that courage by facing our fears, finding support and using prayer or meditation. Again, it’s not really our lives that depress us but our thinking about our lives.

So unless Anthony can begin to change his thinking, his life may not change. Barbara, however, likely will graduate to even more satisfying and fulfilling years ahead because she believes her life is filled with challenges and opportunities.

Who do you want to be in your life and business? How do you maintain an outlook of optimism?


Leadership Is In Your Mind

There is not a day that goes by that we are not leading in some part of our life. Whether it’s as a professional, a business person, a parent or a community member, someone is listening and watching or that we are interacting with and therefore we are leading.

Do you think of yourself as a leader? Do you enjoy leading? As you were growing up, did people tell you that you had natural leadership qualities? Perhaps you are someone who this comes naturally (or not) for. It doesn’t really matter. It is important to realize the impact that you have.

If you don’t see yourself as a leader, you are leading and your probably just don’t realize it. Why? The reason is because we are all leaders, simply because of our influence. Whatever you believe, think, value, feel, or say influences your behavior. These are all the result of your mindset and your mindset affects the impact you have on those around you.

This attitude and mindset impacts much of our behavior, and our behavior produces specific results. If we are the leaders of our lives, in our work, and in our relationships, the results we get matter very much. Are we getting the results we desire and having the impact we want, or are we experiencing unwanted results and outcomes? By looking at the relationship between our mindset, our behavior, and our impact we can integrate all three components in an effective and satisfying way. We can incorporate leadership qualities and engage in leadership behaviors that generate the results we really want.

Your impact may be subtle or it may be profound, little or big, obvious or not so obvious; positive, neutral, or negative. Whatever the impact, you are leading and the way you think about what you are doing can have a huge impact on the results.

Observe your impact as it’s reflected back to you and by watching those around you and their actions. Observe your actions as you execute them, and observe your mindset and what you choose to focus on.

By focusing on the leader within you, and the positive outcome you hope to accomplish, you have an ever-ready tool to use any time that you are not getting results you desire. That’s a tool worth keeping in your toolbox, wouldn’t you say? Feel free to comment below about a tool or leadership/mindset focus that you plan to work on for the next 2 weeks.


Ways to Cultivate a More Curious Life

As discussed last week, curiosity is a quality that can bring life, relationships and business to a new level. Curiosity can create new experiences and connections as well as improve communications. So often when we shut off our curiosity, we miss opportunities that could help us get out of potential negative or “complacent” patterns and possibly shift into something more aspiring and meaningful.

Below are 3 Ways to Practice Cultivating Curiosity:

  1. Questions. Practice asking questions with openness and neutrality. Practice with others you don’t know well (ie. in stores) and with people closer to you. Stop thinking you know all the answers…be open to being surprised!
  2. Inquiries. An inquiry is an open-ended question designed to broaden your perspective. For example: “What would make life a daring adventure for me?” “Where in my life do I assume I already know?”
  3. Assumptions. These impact how we treat strangers as well as loved ones. Challenge yourself and the meaning you assign to things. Check your assumptions by asking, “What if that’s not true?” What other choices would you possibly make then?

If you truly want to expand your excitement, joy and fulfillment in life, business and relationships, sprinkle doses of curiosity all around and observe the fabulous adventure life can be!



Be Curious!

Perhaps some of you grew up being warned “curiosity killed the cat” or were told it was rude or that you would get into trouble like Curious George for asking questions. Curiosity has been given a bad rap.

THE TRUTH IS: Curiosity is one of the most vital and life-affirming qualities you can bring to your life, business and relationships.

Curiosity in Life
Helen Keller said, “Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all!” When you cultivate an attitude of curiosity, doors open and adventures begin; questions lead to new possibilities. For example, asking yourself, “What do I want to learn now and where might that lead me?” can set you on a journey of exciting exploration that moves you forward. If, instead, you come from the place of “I already know what I need to know,” you shut off the possibility of discovering something new that could rock your world.

Curiosity in Business
It is so easy to blame others when things go wrong. Consider being curious about your experience rather than critical. For example, instead of beating yourself up for not reaching sales goals—again—try asking yourself what was going on for you that you kept performing below your expectations? With an attitude of “how fascinating that I’ve created this” you are much more likely to help yourself find new solutions to attaining your goals.

Curiosity in Relationships
How often we assume we know what someone else is thinking or experiencing. What if we came from a place of not knowing and offered others an invitation to speak? According to Sharon Ellison, creator of Powerful Non-Defensive Communication, “A non-defensive question is innocently curious, reflecting the purity of the child who asks how a flower grows or what makes an airplane fly.” We invite others to share their true experience when we ask questions without hidden agendas and to clarify understanding.



Making an Impact

Do you consider yourself a leader? What kinds of results are you getting as a leader in the different aspects of your life? 


According to, the origin of the word “impact” comes from the Latin word impingere, which means “to push against.” The online dictionary has three definitions of impact that relate directly to the concept of leadership impact:


a. “influence; effect,”
b. “the force exerted by a new idea, concept, technology, or ideology,” and
c. “the power of making a strong, immediate impression.”

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Power of Gratitude Contributes to Fulfillment

We hear often about the practice of gratitude as a tool for happiness. Long-term studies support gratitude’s effectiveness, suggesting that a positive, appreciative attitude contributes to greater success in work, greater health, peak performance in sports and business and a higher sense of well-being.


Even though we may acknowledge gratitude’s many benefits, it still can be difficult to sustain. So many of us are trained to notice what is broken, undone or lacking in our lives. And for gratitude to meet its full healing potential in our lives, it needs to become more than just a thankful word. We have to learn a new way of looking at things, a new habit. This can take some time.


That’s why practicing gratitude makes so much sense. When we practice gratitude for what we have, instead of complaining about what we lack, we give ourselves a chance to see life as an opportunity. When we feel knocked down, if we think up 3 things we are grateful for it helps put us in a state of appreciation which also helps us move into action and problem solving if there is a negative situation to be dealt with. We can be grateful, for example, because we have the ability to problem solve and persevere through a challenge or roadblock.
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How Well Do You Motivate Others? 6 quick motivational leadership tips!

Part of leading, whether in your family or at work, is knowing how to really listen and motivate others around you. Motivating your team, or family members, is imperative to the well being ofthe team and the accomplishment of the goal. While motivating others isn’t always easy, there are ways you can help to unleash the power and potential of others.


Here are a few powerful leadership skills you can easily incorporate to bring out the best in others:


1. Ask questions rather than give direct orders.


2. Give specific and sincere praise for accomplishments, so as to let people know that you have noticed.

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5 Tips How to Set Clear Expectations

Too often in leadership we do not communicate our purpose and goals to others we are working with, but instead leave them unsure what to do and how to do it. This results in hesitation, indecision, lack of performance and miscommunication in the workplace. In the home/relationships outside of work, a lack of clarity also results in misinterpretations and unmet needs which can drive a huge crevice in the relationship.


Properly setting expectations with others will set standards for excellence and results, as well as understanding, compassion and teamwork!


Here are 5 tips on how to do that:


1. Start with a vision of what you want the end result to look like. Not just what you want done, but the results you want to achieve when completed.


2. Keep your focus on the desired outcomes, not on describing each and every step to follow. Your goal is to guide, not control. Seek out the strengths of those around you! Letting individuals find their own route encourages them to use their strengths to their fullest potential.

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9 Ways to Make Choices and Commit to Making Them Happen!

It’s the beginning of a new year and this is a great time to reset and make some new choices for 2014! Your CHOICES CAUSE RESULTS.
So, what choices will you adopt for the new year? Seriously, let’s get some massive action going. We all have the same number of hours in a day so if others can take action, so can you! Let’s start the new year fresh, with nothing in the way, and get it going! Whether you are making changes in your business, relationships or your general well-being, these steps will help you commit and take action if you follow them.


Here are some tips to get started without feeling overwhelmed!


  1. Write down a list of your ideas/choices (if you want put them into subcategories: family, work/business, personal, health). It’s important to write these down so it’s not all in your head. It makes a big difference if you can even post your list on a wall or mirror that you will see everyday!
  2. Prioritize your list. Of course everything is important, but assign a priority (1-10). Don’t think too much about it—just write numbers by each item on your list, whatever comes to your mind first. Remember everything is important– this will just help you get started taking the first steps. You can always reprioritize as you go!
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3 Secrets of Impactful Leadership

As you are leading and impacting others, are you getting the results we want? If yes, do you know what you are doing to get those results so you can keep getting them again and again? And if no, do we know what you are doing that is disempowering others, so that you can change your approach to achieve our desired results and empower others in the process?



So, what does it take to be an impactful leader? Being a leader is not about your title, the power of your position, or how many followers you have. It comes down to three critical steps.


1. Know where you are coming from – Know what you believe in and what your values are so that you can make decisions and lead your team in the direction that supports your vision.


2. Adopt a leadership mindset that positively affects your behaviors, your outcomes and therefore your impact. When you have a leadership mindset, you take responsibility for your team and your results.

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