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Leadership Today - Practical Tips For Leaders

Sep 29, 2023


Optimism is pretty easy when things are going well. This week we explore how to stay optimistic, even in challenging situations.



Hello and welcome to episode 203 of the Leadership Today podcast where each week we share practical tips to improve your leadership. This week we explore how to stay optimistic, even in challenging situations.

Optimism is pretty easy when things are going well. Seeing the bright side isn’t difficult when things are bright. But our lives aren’t typically either good or bad. Even in the good times, challenging situations can arise and knock us around. But how optimistic we feel has very little to do with our circumstances. Instead we can all learn optimism and apply it as a skill.

Optimism is a lens through which we view life. Optimism zooms in on the good things to really study and make the most of them. It allows the good moments to spread across other areas of our life, and into the future over a longer period of time. In contrast, optimism zooms out in the challenging moments to gain greater perspective. It contains the bad things to one area of our life and to a moment in time. So how do we stay optimistic?

  1. Schedule time to step back and reflect. Often we end up on autopilot, letting our circumstances dictate how we think and feel. Instead, we want to grab hold of our thoughts and put them in perspective. We want to be intentional about how we think and feel. This requires time to reflect, and the best way to ensure this happens is to schedule it in your calendar. Take time at the start of each day to choose how you want to think and feel about any good and not-so-good things that happen. Take time at the end of the day to reflect on the things you are grateful for.
  2. Tame how you speak to yourself. Often the way we speak to ourselves is not very kind. When things go wrong we can quickly become our own worst critic. If a friend spoke to us the way we speak to ourselves in those moments, they probably wouldn’t be a friend for very long. Instead, be generous and kind to yourself. Speak to yourself as a supportive friend.
  3. Reframe challenges as opportunities for growth. When we expand our horizons and try new things, we build optimism and resilience. Sure - we might make mistakes or find new things hard - that’s to be expected. See these minor setbacks as chances to become wiser, stronger and more capable.
  4. Build supportive connections. Life isn’t meant to be travelled alone. We need other people. Gather people around you that you can support and that can support you. Look for ways to encourage other people. Helping people is motivating and will make you feel more optimistic.
  5. Have a laugh. I was recently stuck at the airport with some colleagues as our flights became more and more delayed. To make things worse, I was going to miss a dinner with friends that I had been looking forward to. We started sharing some pretty low quality jokes with each other. Suddenly the annoying flight delays became a great chance to connect and feel joy together. Even in the hard times, take time to experience joy.

Optimism is something we can all learn and improve. It just takes some intentional effort, time and focus to see the good in life and recognise opportunities to grow and develop. Have a great week.


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