Posts Tagged ‘optimism’

On a positive note

Article contributed by Amy Sargent.

Times such as these can feel overwhelming, far too trying and tiresome to attempt to maintain a positive outlook. With ever-changing restrictions, guidelines, and perspectives which continue to constrict their grip on life as we once knew it, many report feeling utterly exhausted. Mix in fear, uncertainty, and grief, and it’s a recipe for negativity. Add in a little financial struggle and a heaping lack of in-real-time social interaction, you may find yourself completely spent at the end of each day. Who can muster up the effort for a positive mindset with all of this going on? Choosing optimism can feel like just one more thing on your to-do list. It’s much easier to allow dejection and depression to curl their dark tendrils around what’s left of the light inside of you and choke out any positivity you have left.

But realistic optimism during tough circumstances is the very salve needed to soothe our wearied souls.

What does it mean to be realistically optimistic? To better understand, let’s take a quick exploration into the field of positive psychology. Jeana Magyar-Moe, Ph.D., defines positive psychology as the scientific study of optimal human functioning. Optimal human functioning. Let those words sink in. Would you describe your life right now as optimal human functioning? Most likely not! Martin Seligman, Ph.D., defines it as the scientific and applied approach to uncovering people’s strengths and promoting their positive functioning. Do you feel your strengths these days are being revealed in a way which promote positive functioning? If you’re anything like me, quarantines and stay-at-home orders have instead revealed how weak my character is when it comes to things like eating well and exercising. Oh, why is that fridge door so easy to open, and why is Netflix is so much easier to choose than a yoga workout? Similarily, Chris Peterson, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan, says positive psychology is the scientific study of what goes right in life, happiness and joy, what makes life worth living, and the good life. Nice. For him. All it takes is one glance on social media to see most everyone around us telling us what is NOT going right in their lives.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not seeing a lot of people who are living out positive psychology these days.

Whichever definition you most connect to, there’s no need to argue which is best. We have plenty of other newsworthy items to argue about. I think we can all agree that an increase of positive emotions is something we all could use more of. But how to find that in a world swarmed with negativity?

Realistic optimism is not about pretending nothing bad is going on. It’s not hiding our heads in the sand, or looking the other way when negative events occur. Life is tough right now, no need to pretend that it’s not. But would you believe that a positive spirit is not so much about what’s going on around us?

Researchers have found that our circumstances only make up 10% of our happiness levels! I find that shocking. What do you mean, my ability to experience positive emotions is not based upon what is or is not happening to me? Oddly, studies show that 85% of the stuff we worry about ends up having a positive or neutral outcome? Think back on the last thing you were really worried about — did it actually come to pass to the degree you expected?

And while 50% of our happiness results from our genetics, the remaining 40% is up to us, through our choices and actions!

You’ve probably heard of emotional intelligence — that ability to perceive the emotions you an others are feeling, in the moment, and manage your behaviors and relationships appropriately. The competencies which make up emotional intelligence are really about behaviors — behaviors based upon the emotions we feel. Two of these competencies, realistic optimism and resilience, are closely connected to positive psychology. Realistic optimism is expecting success instead of failure, seeing opportunities instead of threats, expecting the future will bring positive change. Resilience is perseverance and diligence in the face of setbacks. I sure like the sound of each of those. But easier said than done.

Why have a positive outlook? Through her work around the science of positivity, researcher and author Barbara Fredrickson and her colleagues discovered that positive emotions have superpowers. They can broaden our awareness, attention and cognitive abilities. They can build our creativity and resiliency. They allows us to see a wider range of possibilities, unlike negativity, which tamps down our innovative ideas. Positivity helps us be more socially connected and build stronger relationships, and has actually been proven to undo the psysiological damage that persistent negative emotions can cause. [https://positivepsychology.com/broaden-build-theory/].

And all of that can happen despite the negative circumstances which surround us!

I know, it’s hard. Honestly, I think it’s easier to allow negativity to take rein, allowing our emotions to run amok, without any awareness or management. Think back on a time when someone recently made you very mad. Remember the physical symptoms you felt? Maybe your heart was racing, your mouth became dry, and you felt a sick pit in your stomach. Maybe your face flushed, your jaw clenched, and you found your hands became fists. And the thoughts which result from that hard-hit of negative emotions! It’s probably not a good idea to mention them here.

These emotions which lead to thoughts are what lead to our actions. Actions which, often, later, when we lie down in bed and think back on our day, make us cringe. It’s much easier to let negativity rule than take hold and choose positivity. Consider this, for example. When you read a post on social media that makes your blood boil — which is easier, in the moment: to type something smart aleck or cutting, or to choose to tell them something you appreciate about them?! Negativity is a much easier choice. However, if we continue to let negative emotions take the lead, we’ll quickly and easily end up in Debby Downer’s neighborhood. But who wants to live there?

How do you know if you could grow in realistic optimism? See if any of these ring true for you. People who struggle with an positive outlook tend to see failure as permanent and that difficulties, when they arise, will last a long time. They demonstrate inflexible thinking, and, as a result, can feel powerless and helpless. They expect the worst and often dwell in the past, engaging in negative self-talk. They operate from a fixed mindset and often believe that every misfortune is their own fault and attribute their success to luck rather than their own capabilities. They blame their circumstances for their misfortune and love to tell you about everything that has gone wrong over the days, months, and years. Does this sound like you?

On the other hand, those who possess a positive spirit see unfortunate events as temporary, and use each struggle to develop better coping skills. Their self-talk speaks to them of success because they believe they will succeed. These individuals operate from a growth mindset, believing negative events are temporary and happen to everyone. They are unfazed by defeat and bounce back after disappointments. They’re flexible, adaptable, and look for ways to allow failures to teach them resiliency. Do you know anyone like this?

Carol Dweck speaks of these two mindsets in her book, Mindset (2015). She describes a fixed mindset as one which assumes our character and intelligence are static, and our success is based upon of inherent intelligence, one that’s set at a fixed standard. In other words, there’s no room to improve or grow. Those with this mindset avoid failure at all cost to maintain their sense of worth. In contrast, Dweck notes that a growth mindset “thrives on challenges and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence, but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities.” Do you see the difference?

She also goes on to say, “Out of these two mindsets, which we manifest from a very early age, springs a great deal of our behavior, our relationship with success and failure in both professional and personal contexts, and ultimately our capacity for happiness.” [Mindset, 2015]

In other words, most of the goals we think will make us happy, often don’t. In contrast, it’s our mindset which determines our level of happiness.

The beautiful thing about a positive spirit is that it can be developed, no matter how negative you’re feeling today, and no matter the ugly circumstances swirling around you. A model to follow is PERMA, developed by psychologist, educator, and author Martin Seligman. Each letter of PERMA represents things we need in our lives to experience more positive emotions. Seligman coined the phrase, “Learned Optimism”, because a positive outlook for many of us does not come naturally. We have to choose PERMA, to learn it, and not wait for it to just happen by some act of fate.

Which one of these could you use more of?

Positive Emotion. In order to have a positive outlook, we need to feel positive emotions. Experiencing emotions like joy, hope, contentment, excitement, and giddiness, on a regular basis, can increase our levels of positivity immensely. Take note of the emotions you feel most strongly each day. If the negatives outweigh the positives, take some time to do the things which create positive emotions for you.

Engagement. Do you absorb yourself in your activities fully or are you a multi-tasker? If the latter, your ability to engage may be limited. Research shows that it really is difficult to multi-task — though you may be doing two things at once, one of them is getting more focus and attention which means the other is put on the back burner. Learning to focus on one thing at a time and relish the experience with all of your senses — engaging — is vital to building positivity.

Relationships. Experiencing deep, meaningful relationships, and taking the time to connect with those we care about, is probably the foremost way to build positivity. Make a list of those you love being around, and note why. Figure out ways to reach out and connect with them on a regular basis. Need more friends? Seek out ways to make new connections and build relationships, whether it’s joining a social group or expanding your friendship circles to include new faces.

Meaning. What is your life purpose, and how does that show up in your day-to-day activities? Can you connect that purpose to the work you do? Does it show up in your personal relationships? Knowing why you do the things you do and aligning them with your values can add meaning to everything you do. Try writing down your values, the things which are most important to you, and see what shifts you need to make to better align your life with those values. Seek the help of a coach or counselor if needed.

Accomplishment. If you’re a to do list-maker, you know how good it feels to check off a box when you complete a task. Accomplishments, both great and small, make us feel good. And they increase our motivation to continue to be successful. Looking back on past accomplishments can spur us toward greater goals. Try it. What did you accomplish today? Write them down, and circle the items you are most proud of. Share an accomplishment with a friend. Celebrate your wins. Try this for a week, or a month, and watch your positivity grow.

From a 20,000 feet view, here are a few ways to cultivate PERMA:

Challenge your negative thoughts about past events and why they happened.
-View negative experiences as neither personal nor permanent (“this too shall pass”)
-Consider the worst-case scenario and come up with actionable strategies to avoid it
-Remember bad things happen to everyone (the grass isn’t always greener)

And on a more down-to-earth level, here are some practices to incorporate PERMA into your day, week, month, and year, proven to increase your positive emotions:

Connect with friends/family/new people

Change your setting

Get outside and spend time in nature

–Find something that makes you laugh — and laugh!

Exercise (aerobic and cardio work best)

Do something kind for someone else– giving back, community engagement, volunteering, etc.

Activate your curiosity and learn something new

–Begin a gratitude jar/journal/letter

Reflect on a past achievements and celebrate them

Set a new goal and jot down how you’ll get there

Count your blessings and small kindnesses which happen every day

Savor moments, big and small

–Find flow (get lost doing something you love)

By choosing just one of these to start doing each day, with repeated practice, you will increase your positive emotions. Don’t believe me? Give it a try and find out. It can’t hurt to try. Your weary soul deserves a little positivity. And what an amazing example you could set for others who think they have to sink into the downward spiral of negativity. Who knows, your positive emotions may inspire them to do the same.

You and this world need your positivity.

Don’t miss the view

Article submitted by Amy Sargent.

I woke early and hopped on my bicycle, barefoot, and pedaled over to the beach in the first rays of the morning light. Pinks, oranges, and purples danced across the water’s surface. Sea gulls flocked together on the shore and sat silently looking seaward, dreaming of discarded sandwiches and half-empty bags of chips. A lone heron stood on one foot, stately and elegant, and a silvery fish jumped with a splash.The waves rolled in gently and the breezes whispered promises of peace and hope. Early mornings on the beach are the stuff dreams are made of.

That is, if you look past the trash strewn across the sand, remnants of yesterday’s revels. Broken glass, empty soda cans, bags of garbage, diapers, broken chairs, plastic sand toys, dismantled canopies, busted umbrellas, fast food wrappers, grocery bags, cigarette butts, and oh, those plastic water bottle lids by the dozens.

Here’s a thing I was thinking about. If I only focused on the garbage, and believe me, there was a LOT, and reflected on what kind of people would leave such a mess, the whole beach experience would be pretty crappy. I could get on social media and yell about it, criticize, and make snide remarks, making it clear I am not “these type of people”, and how the world is going to h-e double hockey sticks because of it. I could pretend “it’s my duty to inform you” of how degenerate people are and describe in detail their dastardly ways so you, too, can jump on my bandwagon. I could word my posts in such a way which breeds fear and panic about how polluted our world is, where no one would ever want to venture out to that dangerous, scary place called the beach again.

But look at this picture. Despite the messiness, the vista was breathtaking.

With a focus bent on the negative, I could have missed it.

Or, I could consider a different perspective. I could shake my head, then get busy picking up some trash. It’s not fun. It’s actually kind of gross. It hurts my back a little, too. But doable. Instead of scorning “them”, I could choose to offer forgiveness to those who don’t know better (or maybe do and make a choice to care about things different from me). And all the while, soak in the stunning beauty which surrounds me.

Every day we read and watch nothing but negative behaviors on our news feeds. There’s some pretty awful stuff going on, hurtful and shocking and scary. Is it tainting your view of all humans? Of our country? Of this world?

And what are you doing about it? Are you helping pick up the broken pieces during these crazy times, or just kicking them around, making an even bigger mess?

I know, the trash is real, and it’s ugly. And there are dangers associated with it, and things are not as we’d like them to be, and we’re scared. But try to keep living, humanely, despite it all. It’s easy to kick around the anger, fear, and worry, spreading it to everyone you know. It’s harder to bend down and pick it up, and put it in its place.

If you feel at a loss as to what you can do to help in these unsettling times, consider picking up some of the residue left by others who are hurting, angry, and struggling. Grab a bag and carry it for them, and find a place to discard it, even if you don’t think they deserve it. Maybe it comes in the form of sending encouraging words in a text. Maybe send some money anonymously to help someone who is struggling financially. Maybe share a positive post. Maybe make someone laugh. Maybe let them know you value them. Maybe share a meal, send a gift card, or ask someone how they are doing, and take time to really listen. Discover their needs, their fears, their dreams, and figure out how to help clean up the mess. Because we all end up in messes sometimes. And we all need others to help when we find ourselves in that messy place.

And while you’re doing that, look up.The sunrise is amazing. Sure, these days you have to look a little harder to see it, but it’s there, every morning, the dawning of a new day. So lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, to the north, and to the south, and to the east and to the west. You won’t want to miss the view.

Are you a realistic optimist?

Article contributed by Amy Sargent

If you admit to being over 40, you probably remember the movie Pollyanna, the story about a little girl who saw everything through rose-colored glasses. The phrase “You’re being Pollyannish” was coined to describe someone who naively sees only the positive side of a situation. You know those kind of people. The ones who are always smiling. The ones who always have a cheerful word, no matter what’s going on around them. The ones who never have a bad thing to say about another, and always walk with a bounce in their step. You know, the ones who are, well, annoying.

It’s as if the frustrating, negative, painful aspects of life can’t touch them. They only feel the ups of the ups and downs, the highs of the highs and lows. I don’t understand them. I once walked into a retail store on my lunch hour, brooding about a previous incident at the office that rubbed me the wrong way, and was greeted by an enthusiastic attendant who, stepping a little too close into my space, chirped a cheery “It’s a great day — how can I help you?” with a smile so sincere that I felt a stab of pain in aversion to the overflowing joy. I turned around and walked out. If I’m in a mood, I can hardly make eye contact with these eternal optimists, for fear their wide-eyed brightness will rub off on my foul state of mind…one that I’m happily relishing in the moment. Especially if I haven’t yet had my morning coffee.

There’s a reason Pollyannish optimists get under our skin. It’s one thing to be optimistic, and it’s another thing to be realistically optimistic. Optimists of the naive sort tends to gloss over the negative aspects of life and lacks experience and wisdom. Without these it becomes difficult to respect them or trust their reliability. They are hard to relate to and we tend to close up and not want to enter an authentic relationship with them because they just don’t get it. Realistic optimism, on the other hand, is the ability to expect success rather than failure, see opportunities instead of threats, and expecting the future to bring positive change, in light of negative circumstances. Realistic optimists know how to make others feel accepted by showing they understand that life can be tough — but they don’t let the tough times take them down. It’s not that realistic optimists don’t see the downside of situations; they’re just able to look ahead with confidence that things are going to turn out all right. Realistic optimism is a competency of emotional intelligence and is a far cry from being Pollyannish.

“If we define optimism broadly as the tendency to maintain a positive outlook, then realistic optimism is the tendency to maintain a positive outlook within the constraints of the available “measurable phenomena situated in the physical and social world” — Sandra L. Schneider

People who possess this valuable skill are able to think clearly and stay focused when under pressure, restrain negative responses that will cause the situation to deteriorate, and manage impulsive feelings even in trying moments. In effect, they can adjust their emotional responses to fit the situation at hand. Without this competency, we tend to react impulsively, are quick to anger, can be defensive, and may become agitated, depressed or sullen when faced with stress on the job or at home.

Wondering which you are? Here are 5 traits of a realistic optimist:

  • ·        You view negative circumstances as surmountable
  • ·        You perceive setbacks as a challenge rather than a sign of defeat
  • ·        You operate from a mindset of taking action vs. inaction from fear of failure
  • ·        You recognize that unpleasant events are temporary
  • ·        You temper negative self-talk with a knowing that you will succeed

Exercising realistic optimism can great affect your productivity and ability to enjoy your daily work. Realistic optimism is not a personality trait but a learned behavior that can be developed. One way to increase this competency is to practice gratitude. A study was done by psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough on the impact gratitude has on our well-being. They put people into three groups — one group with instructions to simply keep a daily journal, no specifications as to content. The second group was to only record negative experiences, and the third to make a list of things they were thankful for. The results? Those who daily expressed their gratitude experienced less stress and depression and had higher levels of enthusiasm, energy, and determination, concluding that those in the third group were more likely to make progress toward the achievement of personal goals and exhibit an optimistic view of life.

“To say we feel grateful is not to say that everything in our lives is necessarily great. It just means we are aware of our blessings.” — Robert Emmons

If you struggle with an outlook of realistic optimism, try tuning into your self-talk about the adversities in your life. Take notes on the how you hear yourself describing your setbacks–and your responses to them. Dispute the negative beliefs and look for evidence of successes, avoiding phrases like “this always happens to me” or “I’ll always fail at this”.  A great resource for developing realistic optimism is Martin Seligman’s book, Learned Optimism.

An optimist, in the words of the late Walter Winchell, an American newspaper and radio commentator, is “…a man who gets treed by a lion but enjoys the scenery.”

How’s the scenery from your tree?

How to live a beautiful life

Article contributed by Amy Sargent
Someone told me yesterday that my world sounds so easy, so fun. She even went on to say she wished she had my life.  I took it as a compliment–as it was–but I had to laugh. My life, really? If she only knew…!
Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” — Abraham Lincoln
It’s all about perspective. I don’t lead any more of a charmed life than the next (nor am I any worse for the wear than the next).  I am simply learning the art of reframing. Like when we snap a photo of a beautiful nature scene, and notice it’s not centered, or an unwanted object is marring the setting, we open our photo editing software and crop to get a new perspective. In reality, the undesirables are still there but we’ve reframed it, so our focus is on the beauty instead of the blemishes.
We must do the same to live a beautiful life.
This month I’ll admit I’ve experienced an enviable lifestyle. I have drunk in the scandalous scent of lavender and lilacs, watched the orange-pink sun rise in the morning’s first light, and squinted in the glimmer of sun rays dancing on a shimmering lake. I have heard the sweet harmonies of my daughter’s voices and watched their speedy legs run across the finish line to victory. I’ve spent enjoyable evenings with dear, sweet elderly women and laughed at their stories of days gone by. I’ve relaxed by the turquoise pool at my cozy apartment, baked warm, fresh homemade bread and enjoyed drinks on a patio with a dear friend. I’ve spent quiet, peaceful alone time on a long morning run contemplating life and the exciting options spread before me. I received a surprise refund from my cable company. On Mother’s Day, I hiked along a sparkling stream with my girls and saw two magnificent moose in the wilderness of a national park. Yes, it’s been a month to be coveted.
Yet in this very same month, I inhaled a lot of second-hand pot smoke (not my favorite thing in the world), which wafts up from our inconsiderate neighbors below. I could only get a glimpse of the sunrise for the tall concrete buildings that block my morning view, and watched discarded Styrofoam cups floating on the surface of a dirty lake. I heard my daughters declare they felt ugly and watched them cry with disappointment after not performing as well as they’d hoped in their races. I’ve spent exhausting evenings with frail, old ladies who admitted they are ready to die. I lived in a cramped apartment with an overcrowded pool full of screaming kids and slept in a too-small twin bed that made my back ache. I baked my own bread in attempt to save money because I was worried about bills. I felt lonely, doubted my purpose in life, and felt fat while attempting a slow morning run. I got a notice that I owed more than I thought on a credit card bill.  On Mother’s Day I spent the entire morning alone while my girls took their stepmother out to brunch.
Same month. Same events. Two perspectives.
If we only tune in to the ugly parts of our lives, which we all experience from time to time, what an ugly life we’ll lead!
Realistic optimism is a competency of emotional intelligence and something we can all learn. It isn’t about pretending tough times don’t exist or being a naive Pollyanna; it’s learning to hone in on the positive and not on the parts of life that drag us down.  It’s easier to do the latter, trust me, as I’ve spent hours, days, and weeks over the years wallowing in my miseries. The difficulty of our struggles can feel so heavy that they diminish our ability to see clearly. But no matter how dark it may look, remember that right alongside those woes is a world of wonder. To ‘see’ requires a shift of focus.
I have friends whose daughter is in a battle for her life, and in each moment they don’t know if she is going to make it. I have another friend who has lost use of her legs, racked with pain, and can’t get outside to see the pink blossoms on the springtime trees. Yet all three of these saints somehow remain positive and joyful. Their noble, hope-infused mindset inspires me beyond words.
“Life is like a sandwich! Birth as one slice, and death as the other. What you put in between the slices is up to you. Is your sandwich tasty or sour?” — Allan Rufus
As you tumble out of bed on this fresh, new morning, and begin to go about your day, get out your editing software! Refuse to let the negatives define your day or even worse, your life. Of course your trials are heavy and difficult. I know. But beauty and blessings are right there too, light and lovely, awaiting your discovery. Now is as good as time as any to begin to learn how to reframe so you can get busy living a beautiful life.

Resilience

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”  –Winston Churchill

No one gets through life without hardships, setbacks, troubles, difficulties and sometimes even tragedy.  Resilience is the ability to bounce back from life’s challenges, to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and carry on.

It’s the ability to rise above adversity, sometimes terrible adversity such as violence, war, the loss of a loved one, loss of income, loss of household due to hurricane or flooding, or ill-health.

A key emotional intelligence skill, resilience can be learned and cultivated.  It builds on a number of other emotional intelligence and self-management skills, including personal power, optimism, agility, and having a bias for action.

Resilient people don’t let adversity define who they are.  Research on resilient people indicates they share certain qualities.  Here are 10.  They:

  1. Maintain a strong support system (friends, family and others), and are willing to accept help from others.  Others in a strong support system want to help.
  2. Practice extreme self-care.  Get enough sleep, eat healthfully, and take time for exercise and mindfulness.
  3. Define themselves from the inside out, from a place of strength and inner personal power.  They believe in themselves, and define themselves as capable, competent, and strong.  They dismiss or disregard the inner critic and instead maintain a sense of positive self-regard.
  4. They reframe the situation.  They try to find the good, the positive, the silver lining if at all possible.  One person said to me recently, “One thing I learned from all this is what an incredible array of friends I have, and how much they truly care about me.”  Sometimes they learn something about themselves and find they have grown in response to the adversity.
  5. They have the ability to manage their responses to strong emotions and impulses, and do so in a healthy manner (and not through drugs and alcohol).
  6. They are “school of life” learners, skilled communicators and problem-solvers.
  7. They view adversity as a temporary challenge, as something they will get through and come out on the other end stronger than when they went in.
  8. Similarly, they keep things in perspective.  They take the long view, the big-picture view, of life and are able to avoid thinking traps such as personalizing others’ behaviors, jumping to conclusions, or magnifying surmountable problems.
  9. Resilient people avoid seeing difficulties as insurmountable.  Rather they begin to set realistic plans and goals, and take small steps to move forward.  They have a “bias for action.”
  10. They accept change as the “new normal” – they know what is within their power to change, and what is not, and they actively work on what is.  They accept that change is part of life, and they are agile and flexible in response to change.

These are just a few tips regarding how we can support our clients in boosting their resilience.  If you would like to learn more, we are proud to announce a new course on Coaching Resilience, May 6 through June 10, 3PM ET, and proud also to introduce you to a new instructor who designed the course, Col. John Moore (Retired).

John MooreColonel (Retired) John Moore, CEO of Moore Strength Executive Leadership and Business Advisors.  John is an ICF Credentialed Professional Certified Coach (PCC) and an ACTP Certified Executive Leadership, Business, and Marketing Coach.   

As a West Point graduate, Army Officer, and Airborne-Ranger John has been leading successful organizations and developing leaders for over 30 years.

He holds a Master of Arts in Leadership Development from the US Military Academy at West Point, a Master of Arts in Strategy Studies from the US Army War College, and a Bachelor of Science from the US Military Academy where he was a distinguished graduate in the top 5% of his class.

John’s leadership in key positions within organizations ranging from 30 to 180,000 people was marked by courage and a commitment to excellence in performance and character.  He has combat experience at every level and was the operational Chief of Staff during the surge in Iraq in 2007-2008.

Upon retiring from the Army John founded Moore Strength Executive Leadership and Business Advisors where he has created models for developing exceptional leaders throughout organizations, creating positive organizational climates, and building steady business growth.

John’s broad leadership and operational experience in complex and demanding environments, leadership education, tenures as a leadership educator; trainer; and coach; and his challenging and accountable coaching approach uniquely contribute to client success and achievement.

He is trained and certified in Social and Emotional Intelligence through the ISEI and will soon be credentialed as a PCC.  He is a highly sought-after speaker and seminar leader on topics ranging from strategic planning, strategic communications, building high performance cultures, business growth, personal and organizational resilience, change management, and inspirational leadership.

The Resilient Leader:  Coaching Resilience Course Objectives

You will learn how to teach your executive coaching clients:

  • What managerial/leadership coaching is, and why and how it works
  • The tools and skills they need to develop to take a coach approach to leadership and management
  • How to conduct a coaching conversation
  • An overview of the leadership coaching process (including gathering data on performance, how to discuss and provide feedback on recent performance, how to develop an action plan for moving forward, how to implement the development / action plan and how to evaluate continued progress and performance)
  • How they can support and challenge their best performers to greater levels of success
  • How they can integrate coaching seamlessly into their everyday interactions with their direct reports
  • How they can shift their mindset from supervisor to coach

You can contact John at john.moore@moore-strength.com or by calling (913)217-5276.

Is Optimism Really Good for You?

Choose to be optimistic.  It feels better.

– Dalai Lama XIV

This is the first in a series of blogs on Positive Psychology and how it supports our work in coaching Social + Emotional Intelligence.

Last Spring, I had the wonderful good fortune to take a class* from the late Dr. Chris Peterson.  Chris was one of the founding fathers of Positive Psychology and a scholar and researcher with a long-standing interest in optimism (as well as health, character, and well-being).

Sadly, for all of us who studied with him, and for all the world, Chris passed away unexpectedly last October.  He was an inspiration to me and to many others in the world of Positive Psychology.  He taught me to strive to seek the positives in life, to “pursue the good life,”  to scientifically study what goes right in life, and to always remember that “other people matter.”  He is so missed, and one of my primary goals in teaching a new course (starting next week) on Using Positive Psychology in Coaching Social + Emotional Intelligence is to pass along some of the many lessons Chris taught me.

Today, we will touch on some of his work related to optimism.  Prior to Chris Peterson’s research, optimism had developed something of a bad rap (believe it or not).  People equated optimism with Pollyanna, and the annoying Dr. Pangloss from Voltaire’s Candide  (i.e., foolish, stupid, unrealistic optimism).

Positive Psychology is based, above all, on science, and Chris Peterson turned his attention to the scientific study of optimism.   In fact, studies of optimism preceded and helped usher in the field of Positive Psychology, which is why we will start here.

An enormous amount of empirical research over the decades (Peterson’s and others) has demonstrated that optimism is good for us.  Among the benefits, optimism can lead to:

  • Better health, bolstered immunity
  • More satisfying relationships (both friendships and intimate relationships)
  • Greater success in work, school and sports
  • Less stress
  • Lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure
  • Increased longevity (longer life)
  • Greater happiness
  • Enhanced resilience and coping skills
  • Greater productivity and motivation
  • More patience
  • Enhanced physiological and psychological well-being
  • More effective problem-solving
  • Greater self-confidence and positive self-regard
  • Improved social life and bonding between individuals
  • Greater focus
  • Improved communication and self-expression
  • Enhanced mental flexibility and creativity

Optimism and other positive emotions have a positive impact on virtually every bodily function and organ in the human body, including the brain, the heart, the vascular and immune systems, the hormonal system and on detoxification.

An optimistic expectation leads us to the belief that goals can be achieved.  Positive expectations can be self-fulfilling.  So how can we set optimistic expectations, both for ourselves and in support of our clients?  This will be the subject of a future blog post and will also be explored in our upcoming class (starting next week!) Using Positive Psychology to Coach Social + Emotional Intelligence. 

In this advanced class, we will be covering dozens of Positive Psychology exercises and interventions (related to optimism and many other topics that can add significant value to our practice of coaching social and emotional intelligence).  To register, click here

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*While I have taken several courses in Positive Psychology over the past few years, I had the good fortune to take the Positive Psychology class with Dr. Chris Peterson through MentorCoach, LLC, a coach training school based out of Bethesda, Maryland.  Their foundational coaching training program is based on the principles of integrating evidence-based coaching and the science of Positive Psychology.  For anyone seeking an ICF-accredited program for your foundational coaching training, I highly recommend MentorCoach.  For information, contact Dr. Ben Dean at www.MentorCoach.com.

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