The journey to peak performance as a leader starts with one very important thing – you

As I described in last week’s introductory blog (relating to my soon to be released book), it’s my firm belief that developing a positive mind set will have the biggest impact on your results, success and fulfillment as a leader in business or elsewhere.

Positive Insight relates to how much time you spend thinking and acting constructively, rather than being hijacked by negative thinking. And we all do think negatively, I’m sure you will agree. In the book I go into this in more depth, but suffice to say that much of this thinking is under the guise of keeping us safe and not taking risks. It’s also internalised negativity that’s come from parenting, the media and other experiences. The most important fact is that we don’t need to own it.

I have a simple model for handling negative thinking:

  • It has an important message that’s alerting you to a risk and you should take note of it and act on it
  • It is a perspective that can be shifted to a more positive one
  • It is complete nonsense! When you raise your awareness and observe it, you realise it can be ignored.

I also go into a range of other approaches to deal with the more negative side of our thinking, but it’s key we develop some techniques to handle this.

Obviously on the flip side, it is crucial to maximise our positive thinking. This is the foundation of the “Positive Psychology” movement that launched in 1998, when psychology flipped from having a huge focus on problems of the mind, to seeing how the mind can be our strong ally. I am proud to be a member of the International Positive Psychology Association, as this is a big focus of what gets me up every day in my work as a leadership specialist and business psychologist.

On the positive side I will touch on two things here. One is Neuroplasticity. Neuroscience has developed dramatically over the past 20 years, so we can now identify what is going on in areas of the brain when we are thinking in specific ways. What has been found with neuroplasticity, is that our behaviour can adapt and change different parts of our brains (taxi drivers have a more developed hippocampi that relates to spatial awareness for example). So your neurology, or in simple terms your brain, is not fixed. So we can all shift our thinking and mental abilities.

The final thing I’ll leave you with this week, is the concept of shifting your filtering. Your tendency, when going about your day, will be to focus on and be alert to the negative. Again this relates to our fight, flight or freeze responses. But a range of fascinating research has found that you can work on your perceptual filters to focus on the positive that is going around you. So as a simple exercise, spend the next 21 days taking note of 5 positive things that happened in your day. This will shift your filters more towards the positive and you will therefore start to become much more alert to the positive opportunities and events around you. I have done this for over 2 years and it works.