How to Orchestrate Your Attitude

This is a guest post by Lee Colan and Julie Davis-Colan of The L Group, Inc., a consulting firm that has served leaders at every level since 1999. They are the authors of Getting the Best from Yourself and Others.

Your Attitude Determines Your Success

How do you measure success? Is it by financial security, career growth, community involvement, quality of relationships, spiritual centeredness or the legacy you leave? Whichever measure you choose, your attitude is the single most important factor in achieving success.

 

“Your attitude is the single most important factor in achieving success.”

 

The topic of attitude can be conceptual and confusing. In fact, as we go through life we often hear phrases like, “Keep your chin up,” “Look on the bright side,” or “You need a winning attitude.” Unfortunately, we seldom know how to convert these soft sayings into hard results.

The great news is that even in the worst situations – a victim of a natural disaster, prisoner of war, target of abuse or when hit by a string of unfortunate circumstances – your attitude is something you can always control!

When we control our attitude we influence how our body responds and performs. Where our thoughts and attitudes go, our bodies follow. For example, blushing is a physical reaction to a mere thought. If we have this kind of reaction to a thought, is it such a leap of faith to believe that we can orchestrate our attitudes to affect our bodies in beneficial ways?

 

“The choice of attitude is yours. Tomorrow you will become what you choose today.”

 

A landmark study shed light on the ultimate benefit of a positive attitude. In this particular study, participants who were more positive lived an average of 10 years longer than the other participants. Considering that smoking has been shown to reduce life expectancy by 5.5 years for men and 7 years for women, your attitude might be a health risk factor worth paying real attention to.

The choice of attitude is yours. Tomorrow you will become what you choose today.

 

Study: positive participants lived 10 years longer than other participants.

 

A Script for Orchestrating Attitude

There are three aspects of the script that work in concert: thoughts, words and actions. By orchestrating each aspect with conscious responses, we positively influence our beliefs, commitments and results.

 

Orchestrating Attitude Script

 

The script plays out like this:

  • Thoughts, the way we choose to interpret our world, directly influence our beliefs.
  • Beliefs directly influence the words we choose to speak to others, and more importantly, to ourselves.
  • Words reflect our commitments to ourselves and others.
  • Commitments influence our choice of actions.
  • Finally, our actions directly influence the results we achieve.

This script is self-reinforcing, for better or for worse. The results we achieve reinforce our thoughts, and the same script is played out again. So, it all starts with our thoughts. Our thoughts today influence our results tomorrow.

How To Create An Optimistic Workplace

Make Work Happy

Do you want to create an optimistic workplace?

How does a strong purpose help in difficult times?

How do leaders set a positive leadership presence?

 

“The climate suffers when employees don’t believe their leader has their back.” –Shawn Murphy

 

My friend, author and speaker Shawn Murphy is the CEO & Founder of the leadership blog, Switch & Shift. His new book, The Optimistic Workplace, is a guide to creating and maintaining a powerful, positive, optimistic culture that creates results.

Previously, Shawn shared with us the powerful implications of positive, contagious emotions. I wanted to go deeper into the research for his new book, and so I asked Shawn to share more about the leadership insights he gained from decades of working with business leaders.

 

“Optimistic climates support employees’ exploration of purpose.” –Shawn Murphy

 

Find Your Purpose

I was fascinated by the research on eyeblinks. How does the eyeblink reflex relate to purpose?

Researchers used startle probes to measure the reflexive eyeblink caused by a stimulus, in the case of this research it was an image. The images ranged from positive, to neutral, to negative.

What researchers learned was the length of the eyeblink gave insight into the person’s emotional response to the pictures. The longer the eyeblink, the more unpleasant the response to the picture.

How this connects to purpose is that the researchers, Carol Ryff and team, found that those who had a clearer sense of purpose in life recovered faster from negative images. The research gets at a person’s resiliency. Purpose in life strengthens the core of our identity. The clearer our sense of purpose, the stronger our resiliency is; we can recover faster from negative stimulus in our life.

In a work context, we can summon our purpose to guide us through difficult times at work. It can also help us make better decisions, as purpose serves as a guide in decision making: Does this opportunity support my purpose?

 

“Resilience can be strengthened when a person has a sense of purpose.” –Shawn Murphy

 

Start Small to Cultivate Optimism

To cultivate optimism in the workplace, you say, “Start small,” and, “Forget about the ‘big bang.’” Most people who have a passion for culture want to jump right in with sweeping initiatives and major change. Why start small?

In my 20+ years as an organizational change management consultant and in leading change in my own company, I’ve learned that the big bang causes more confusion, comes across as rah-rah, and alienates people from what the change purpose and message is.

 

“Workplace optimism is the belief that good things will come from hard work.” –Shawn Murphy

 

So, rather go for broke, start small. Create a pocket of excellence. The change starts in a small group within the organization. The group is typically a supporter of the change. Let the small group experience success and gradually widen it to other pockets within the company.

Word of the success travels through networks of people. This approach organically builds support through achieved success and not through possible success. It’s the latter that is the focus of big bang change efforts. It’s what disillusions people about change efforts.

 

Research: You can transform the work experience by focusing on the best positive realities.

The Powerful Implications of Positive, Contagious Emotions

This is a guest post by my friend, author and speaker, Shawn Murphy. Shawn is the CEO & Founder of the leadership blog, Switch & Shift. I’m excited that his book, The Optimistic Workplace is now available.

Be Positive

As a leader, you have the greatest influence on those whom you lead. A good day for you can lift the spirits of your team. Research shows that your positive emotions are contagious. Certainly the opposite is true. Yet, there is greater significance when you spread positive, contagious emotions. That is the focus of this article.

 

“Your presence has a powerful influence on your team.” -Shawn Murphy

 

Distinguished psychology professor Barbara Fredrickson has devoted much of her research to positive, contagious emotions. She defines them as emotions such as joy, love, or inspiration. When these or other positive emotions are present, they expand our thinking and actions to complementary effects. Positive emotions drive related behaviors that inspire others to mimic them when observed. For example, if you are feeling inspired in a brainstorming meeting and you show it, it will likely rub-off on others who will model similar behaviors. Thus the emotion becomes contagious.

 

“Positive anything is better than negative nothing.” –Elbert Hubbard

 

Benefits of Positive, Contagious Emotions

Positive, contagious emotions benefit your team and help drive towards desired organizational outcomes. These emotions help shape the work climate to be optimistic. Individuals thrive because of these two influences on performance.

Higher Team Performance

Simply put, positive emotions make you feel good. And when you feel good you perform at higher levels. It’s easier for you to reach peak performance. When you regularly experience positive emotions, you continually grow toward optimal functioning. A team influenced by positive, contagious emotions performs at higher levels.

Positive SeOptimistic Workplacelf-Identity

When you feel good about yourself and your contributions, you are more likely to experience higher levels of creativity and resiliency. What Fredrickson has learned from her research is that positive emotions have an encouraging influence on a person’s identity and well-being.

Stronger Relationships

Relationships are stronger and healthier where positive, contagious emotions are prevalent. Employees are seen as key partners in the success of the team and ultimately in the organization. Employees want to know that they are valued and not just some number built into the company’s balance sheet.

 

“A team influenced by positive, contagious emotions performs at higher levels.” -Shawn Murphy

 

Implications of Positive, Contagious Emotions

As a leader, you personally benefit by demonstrating actions that evoke positive emotions. The implications listed below have significant influence on your own satisfaction as a leader. The implications also help shape the climate so that workplace optimism can emerge.

Inspire People to Overcome Challenges

Lead Positive: What Highly Effective Leaders See, Say, and Do

Most people want to be positive, to lead in a positive way, and to think positive thoughts. Not many people aspire to be negative.  We laugh when we see the donkey, Eeyore, in Winnie the Pooh, but most of us can name someone with that mindset.  And all of us go through periods where we may exhibit that behavior.  How to consistently create a positive mindset is a skill.

Recently, I spoke with Dr. Kathy Cramer, who has just released a book called Lead Positive.

 

“Leading positive is when a leader is looking at what’s possible, what’s positive, what’s valuable, and what they can leverage in the moment.” -Dr. Kathy Cramer

 

Leading Positive

Your new book is titled Lead Positive. What does “leading positive” mean?

It took us a long time to come up with that title, believe it or not. It’s very simple, very straight forward, and people tell me that they get it right away. It’s about leading and it’s about moving forward in a positive way towards a positive result.

Highly effective leaders spend 5x more attention on the possible positive than on problems.


Lead Positive also has a subtitle that is very important to the meaning of the book and the purpose of the book: What Highly Effective Leaders See, Say and Do.  In my study and experience with coaching leaders, I have found that the see-say-do framework is a self-reinforcing loop.  Oftentimes, leaders are not really aware of exactly what they’re paying attention to. But whatever it is dictates in a very direct way what will come out of their mouths—what they’re going to say—and then ultimately what they do.  So it’s a virtuous cycle.

9781118658086.pdfLeading positive is when a leader is looking at what’s possible, what’s positive, what’s valuable, and what they can leverage in the moment.  When leaders are looking at the upside of a situation—welcomed or unwelcomed—then they create a virtuous cycle.  They start talking about it, they say out loud what they’re seeing, and then other people join them in taking action, doing what is necessary to really take advantage of the upside.

In your research on leadership, what distinguishes a highly effective leader?

One of the things that stands out about highly effective leaders is that they actually spend five times more attention and effort leveraging what is possible and what is positive in the moment than they do focusing on problems. That is a big reversal from what most of us by nature and nurture do almost automatically.

What neuroscience refers to as our negativity bias literally equips us to be more sensitive and more reactive to something that spells danger, harm, problem or something’s not right. And so if we let that negativity bias have its way, most of us are literally the opposite; we’re focusing on the upside five times less than the downside.

What we’re doing here with highly effective leaders is we’re training them how to be aware: “What am I paying attention to?” And if it’s a huge problem or a huge barrier, something that’s significant, of course, you need to pay attention to it, but pay attention to it as an asset-based thinker would—by focusing five times more effort on the assets inherent in the situation, even if the situation is problematic.

On the other hand, deficit-based thinkers are people who have not tackled or tried to tame their negativity bias. It’s quite easy to do. It’s a simple process, but we find it difficult because it means cultivating a new habit.

Soul is all about meaning what you say and saying something meaningful.” –Kathy Cramer

You break down communication into substance, sizzle, and soul. It really resonated with me. “Saying it” with substance, sizzle and soul makes communication positive and memorable. Would you share an example of this?

I’m thinking of Franklin Delano Roosevelt here.  In his famous inaugural speech, one of his first lines was, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  Let’s just take that one memorable line. There is tremendous substance here, which really refers to the psychological fact that when you are afraid, when you’re in deficit-based thinking land, there’s some anxiety. And in this case, America was going through the Great Depression, so the anxiety was profound. When we feel hopeless we have a very narrow focus. Our minds operate like lasers zeroing in on what the problem is and how to escape. But there is no creative bandwidth at all in that.

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” –F.D.R.

Speak With Substance

So when a leader is speaking with substance, he is giving people the kind of information that FDR was presenting, the cautionary tale: If we act out of fear, we surely will fail, we surely will be sub-optimized, we surely will be impulsive.

Speak With Sizzle

The sizzle that’s associated with this phrase has to do with the emotion, the profound warning that you can hear in FDR’s voice. We can go to YouTube, we can Google this particular speech, and we can hear it thanks to technology now and even view him as he spoke those words. The tone of his voice and the message itself had sizzle because they were speaking directly about emotion.

Speak With Soul

Jon Gordon Shares The Greatest Success Strategies of All

 

When I pick up one of Jon Gordon’s books, I have high expectations.  I expect to be entertained, moved, and motivated to think differently and take action.  That’s not an easy accomplishment for any book.

 

“Your optimism today will determine your level of success tomorrow.” –Jon Gordon


His latest book, The Carpenter: A Story About the Greatest Success Strategies of All, exceeded my already high expectations.  Jon once again narrates a story in such a way that it:

  • Reminds me of timeless principles
  • Zeroes in on something I need to work on
  • Inspires me to become a better leader

I recently had the opportunity to ask Jon a few questions about his work.

 

“Negative thoughts are the nails that build a prison of failure.” –Jon Gordon

 

The 3 Greatest Success Strategies

 

Jon,The Carpenter’s subtitle is A Story About the Greatest Success Strategies of All.  Let’s talk about a few of these strategies.

The 3 greatest of them all are:The Carpenter by Jon Gordon

1. Love

2. Serve

3. Care

I go into more detail in the book of why they are so powerful, but after studying the most successful people and organizations, I found they truly loved the work they did, and they did everything with love instead of fear.  The love they had for their product, people and passion was greater than their fear of failing.  They loved their work so much that they overcome their challenges to build something great.  They loved their people, so they invested in them and helped them achieve great results.  They also cared about everyone and everything.  They put in a little more time with a little more energy with a little more effort with a little more focus, and this produced big results.  They also served and sacrificed.

Only through service and sacrifice can you become great. When you serve others, you become great in their eyes.  We know when someone is out for themselves and when they are here to serve others. You can’t be a great leader if all you are serving is yourself.

 

“Only through service and sacrifice can you become great.” –Jon Gordon

 

The Importance of Rest

You talk about the importance of rest.  Most of us are so busy achieving, setting goals, and driving that we have learned to smile and nod in response to hearing “get some more rest.”  My subconscious often responds with, “I will rest when I’m dead.”  Why is rest so important?  What made you decide to start with it as a success strategy? 

I’ve noticed that the enemies of great leadership, teamwork, relationships and customer service are busyness and stress.  Our lives have become so crazy that we are continually activating the reptilian part of our brain and the fight-flight response.  So without knowing it, we are living and working from a place of fear where we are just trying to survive instead of thrive.

When we rest and recharge, we can think more clearly and live and work more powerfully.  For example, instead of running people over because you are so busy, you can take time to build relationships with your team and customers and create more success in the long term.  Instead of just trying to get through the day, you can live and work more intentionally thinking about who needs your time and energy to develop and grow.  Instead of rushing through conversations with customers, you can take more time to listen and solve their problems.  Every great athlete must rest and recharge and so must we to perform at our highest level.

Bestselling Author Jon Gordon

 

“Anyone who attempts to build great things will face challenges.” –Jon Gordon

 

How Gratitude and Love Make The Difference