As we enter our third year of the pandemic, navigating continual supply chain issues and enduring what’s being called the “Great Resignation,” it can be difficult for business leaders to maintain a positive mindset. But now is the time when leaders must ensure they have the capacity to respond to life’s challenges positively. Working toward mental fitness can have huge impacts, including peak performance, increased wellness, healthy relationships, and role modeling the behavior we want to see from others.
How do we have the mental fitness necessary to stay positive? Below are three tips for role modeling the positive mindset that will help us and our teams thrive.
1. Recognize when negative thoughts impact your mindset so you can stop them. In the Positive Intelligence* literature, these negative thoughts are referred to as saboteurs. Everyone has them, and they manifest differently. The first step in combatting them is recognizing them for what they are—negative, non-productive thoughts—so you can refocus on positive, productive thoughts instead.
Next time you catch yourself replaying an issue in your mind or ruminating on a negative situation that happened, take a deep breath and label the thought. Then, in the same way you would remove your hand from a burning stove, restate the thought in a way that can be acted upon clearly (see the next tip for how).
2. Look for the gift or opportunity in every situation. When you experience a negative setback, like a client not choosing you for their next project, re-frame it by asking yourself, “What’s the gift or opportunity here?” You can find something positive in nearly any circumstance. Maybe when a client doesn’t choose you, it will open an opportunity to receive additional feedback about what they are looking for, which will lead to a stronger relationship.
It can be hard to see the opportunity or gift in negative situations when you are in them, but the more you challenge yourself to look for them, the more likely you are to find them. This will, in turn, model resilience for your team members.
3. Ensure your interactions with others maintain a 3:1 positive to negative ratio. A good way to check whether you are in a positive mindset, and fostering a positive mindset in others, is to reflect on your ratio of positive to negative interactions with people. For survival purposes, our brains are wired to see the negative first. For example, we are more likely to focus on the one negative piece of feedback we received than the ten positive pieces of feedback. To build a foundation of trust with others and ensure we have positive relationships, we must make positive feedback and interactions the default mode. As a baseline, leaders should have three positive interactions with others to every one negative interaction. When this happens, leaders are seen as more approachable and trustworthy.
Mental fitness, like physical fitness, involves deliberate and focused exercise. In business and the world, we need positive mindsets. As leaders, we owe it to our teams to model the positive mindsets and behaviors we want to see from them.
Danielle Crough, PhD, Vice President of People & Culture