Posted by: mikeduckett | November 21, 2013

Optimistic Thinking and Being a Realist – Part 1

It’s not in your genes: it’s learned

We’ve talked about this before but no matter what part you play in industry one thing is for sure (as well as taxes of course) and that’s that it won’t always go your way. No matter how skilled you are there will be times when you miss your goal e.g. missed targets are almost a fundamental part of being in business. This is obvious in sport and in selling: “you can’t sell them all, no matter how good you are”.

The big difference between elite sports heroes or high profile business ‘winners’ and the rest of us is not that we fail and they succeed; it is in their skill at rationalising life’s up and downs so they can come back from failure and go on to succeed – time after time.

This is not about ‘PMA – positive mental attitude’ in the way normally taught, through affirmations etc. This is about learning a new way of thinking things through. A new habit which can be learned and then practiced like any other habit.

The leading psychologist who did most of the original work on the subject is Martin Seligman and he started by researching the idea that depression is a form of learned helplessness. Then after some years he asked psychologists to ‘turn the binoculars around’ and look at fully functioning healthy people – how do they cope? He then coined the phrase ‘learned optimism’ recognising that both are simply learned ways of viewing life’s events.

Some years ago I put out a small questionnaire designed to identify people who scored high in learned optimism. The video below is an interview with one such respondent where I attempt to illustrate the way he thinks optimistically.

Although it was made some time ago I was recently working with a client on their goal of being optimistic and resilient and showed them this. They suggested it might be worth a look if you haven’t already seen it……….

An interview with Nick Barber:

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