Simple but powerful TED about positive thinking... and why it needs practice!

I came across this interesting TED talk today. Really worth watching this short 10 minutes video.

Alison Ledgerwood's initial question is: "Why does a failure seem to stick in our mind so much longer than a success?". She conducted simple experiments to demonstrate that our brains have hard time to shift from "bad" to "good". It takes work and effort for most of us to see the upside; it needs practice.

There is an easy link here with optimism, and well-being. The "3-blessings" intervention from Martin Selingman is a great and effective way to help us remember, focus and leverage the positive moments of our days. It is an example of the practice needed to help our brains being more positive, more optimistic. 

What about you? Can you remember times where you were stuck in a negative moment of your day, of a failure, of a bad feeling, for way more than you were expecting? Maybe you even did not realized it? Did that offset a wonderful lunch spent with a colleague, a smile from a friend or a touching compliment from your kids? 

Yes, our mindset is the fundamental for how we feel, behave, and act. But the good news is: we can control it. We can practice an optimistic mindset (a positive explanatory style). It is our choice, and there are plenty of resources to help us!

Alison Ledgerwood is an Associate Professor at the University of California, Davis. Her research focuses on the psychological tools that allow humans to reach beyond their current experiences.

Why I am an Optimist... and Why it is important at Work!

I always felt I was an optimist. Since I am a kid, I have this positive mindset (the "Growth Mindset" described by Carol Dweck). I brought this positive thinking to my career and did my best to share it inside companies I have been working for.

It is not easy every day to be an optimist! You get a lot of push back. You have your bad days, challenges and doubts like any other. When this happens, I remind myself that I am an optimist. I see the glass half full. It always helps.

I am a passionate optimist because I believe that, together with other fellow optimists, we can make a significant change in the world around us. We, as optimists, look at the future differently. We analyze past events differently. We decide and make choices differently in the present. We are willing to optimize every minute of our lives.

As a leader, I believe optimism is a particularly important value to develop in every organization. We need to hire optimistic colleagues. We need to develop optimism and positive thinking during coaching sessions. This makes teams grow and thrive.

Why? I quote Philippe Gabilliet, in his book "Eloge de l'Optimisme" (translated). "The optimism level of an individual - defined as its ability to project oneself into a positive future - will allow him/her to:

  • be persistent in making efforts even if the objective is hard to reach
  • stay motivated in case of failure, protecting himself from "negative affects" like disappointment, resignation, frustration
  • accept difficult realities and attempt to find solutions
  • give the best of himself at all times"

I do hope most of you would agree on the tremendous impact the above-mentioned behaviors have in the workplace. The optimist will move forward, take thoughtful risks, experiment, dare to try, develop himself, trust one another. The optimist will help you create the growth mindset you need at work, to succeed and win.