One of the biggest challenges people face today is staying optimistic.
We are living in times of big changes and are bombarded daily with bad news; stories that affect us and impact our hope of the goodness of mankind. We can get caught up in the wave of negativity the media showcases. It brings us an unconscious feeling of comfort when we think, “At least that didn’t happen to me, right?”
This is not a positive mindset for coaches. As coaches, we are lucky enough to have the skills available to make other people’s lives better. We have the power to change negativity to positivity, one client at a time. Coaches must go forth into the future with the goal of making our world a place where good news, not bad, is the standard. To achieve this, we must be optimistic about our chances for success. Without optimism, we cannot move forward.
How to train yourself to have an optimistic mindset
The mind functions as a reservoir, and we must learn how to supply this reservoir. Optimism is an attributive style; essentially, a way we attribute meaning to daily events.
When evaluating a fact of life, pessimistic individuals and optimistic individuals will have opposite perspectives from each other.
For a Positive Fact: “I got a raise!”
Optimistic Profile: Everything always works out for me.
Pessimist Profile: My taxes will be even higher now.
For a negative fact: “I lost my house keys.”
Optimistic Profile: I never lose anything, someone probably picked them up for me.
Pessimist Profile: I always forget everything; I am so distracted!
If you find yourself identifying with the pessimist profile, don’t be discouraged. With mental strength and daily training, you will be able to create good in any situation.
Starting with your speech, eliminate negative phrases such as “I can’t”, “I always give up”, or “I am *insert negative adjective*”. For example, you may have found yourself saying, “I am lazy.” A better way to frame this in your mind is “Today I did not accomplish as much as I wanted to. I will make a list for tomorrow so I can complete all of my tasks!” Additionally, try to avoid complaining at all costs. If you are working with a particularly difficult client, try to view the experience as a positive challenge rather than a negative situation. This will allow you to remain in good spirits and help the client in the most productive way possible.
Another way to train your brain to be more optimistic is by recording positive events in your day, no matter how small. If you lowered the stress level of a nonprofit manager, write that down in your journal. If you pass a particularly beautiful garden, take a picture or make a note. If you have a productive conversation with your team, keep a record of the highlights. By doing this, you will train yourself to focus on the positives around you. And everyday, make sure you keep an open mindset to learning about and practicing optimism. It is not easy, but with hard work and diligence you will be able to remain optimistic in the face of negativity.
Coaching for social progress asks us to do the hard work to make a difference. We are working with clients who could gain major benefits from our services, but who may have never even heard of coaching before. We are working with nonprofits that are tackling some of the hardest and most important problems of today. With optimism in our hearts and minds, we can walk into the battlefield of life everyday ready to create positive change.
Monica Barg, Brazil