October 27, 2017 • 6 minute read • by Saeed
“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”~Winston Churchill
1. Accurate Self-Assessment
It all starts with self knowledge. So, go here now and see what personality profile you fit best. I’ve done this test multitude of times over a number of years with coaching clients and I would say it’s 90% accurate. If you haven’t done one before, it will give you incredible actionable insight. If you have, then compare it with this one and look for commonalities. That’s probably as close to an objective assessment as you’ll get.
2. Emotional Awareness
Emotional awareness is a key to leading a happier and more fulfilling life. The Ancient Greek aphorism “know thyself,” requires us to know how we feel in different situations. If you haven’t already, read Daniel Goldman’s bestselling book on Emotional Intelligence, do so. Increasing your awareness of your own feelings is the first step towards furthering the development of your Emotional Intelligence.
There are some bedrock rules to self-confidence. Reframe negative thoughts. Learn to handle mistakes and failures in a more positive way. Don’t fall victim to the comparison trap. While you’re at it, don’t be a victim. Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good. Develop an attitude of gratitude. Take this self-esteem test to learn more about your own perception of self.
Resilience is simply defined as the ability to bounce back from adversity. Resilience is a skill. Like a muscle, it will grow stronger the more you work it. This means developing and practicing strong coping skills, a healthy perspective, relentless optimism and good self care. It also means managing stress and being proactive and anticipating challenges. Here is an excellent piece in ‘How to Build Resilience in Midlife.’
Yes I know: buzz word du jour – but that doesn’t negate its importance. This is the state of being actively open and attentive to the present moment. Instead of thinking about the past or worrying about the future, be present in the here and now. What could be wrong with that? The difficulty is sustaining the practice. Meditate, do yoga or just be attentive to your breathing. Little practices each day will help enormously. The next time you are confronted by your snarky boss, go Zen. Instead of overreacting, bring your attention to your physical body. Scan your body from head to toe and consciously try to let any tension slip away. After that, bring your attention to your breathing. Breath gently. Now respond without ego and with compassion. See what happens. If it’s good enough for his Holiness, it’s good enough for you.
I have a popular article on empathy which explores this theme in the context of leadership and you can read that here. But in short, here is what you need to know. Empathy is, at its simplest, awareness of the feelings and emotions of other people. It is not the same as sympathy. It is a key element of emotional intelligence because it is how we understand what others are experiencing and therefore allows us to act on their needs and concerns. Researchers have identified three types of empathy:
- Cognitive empathy: Understanding someone’s thoughts and emotions, in a very rational, rather than emotional sense.
- Emotional empathy: The ability to relate to someone else’s feelings, so that you literally feel them too.
- Compassionate empathy: Understanding someone’s feelings, and taking appropriate action to help.
7. Social Bonds
I am always amazed at how much time people spend in the gym to look good externally but how little time they spend comparatively on building social bonds. Ironically, social media has spurred an epidemic of social isolation with proven drastic mental health consequences. Further evidence from a decades-long study shows that loneliness has detrimental outcomes as powerful as smoking and alcoholism. So, the next time your friends or colleagues invite you out for coffee or a meal, take them up on it. That next line of code or whatever you are doing can wait. Human beings are social animals and a strong social support system is key to an emotionally healthy life.
8. Collaboration and Cooperation
In my training exercises, I sometimes use the improv technique of Yes, And. Unless you are currently a monk in a cave, your work is not a one-person show. That means collaboration, engagement and cooperation with others. This exercise forces people to avoid rejecting other team members ideas and instead to build upon them. “Yes, And” is the opposite of “No, But,” which is what I hear most on the shop floor.
9. Service orientation
The Dali Lama believes that the more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being becomes. The servant leader is a popular model for leadership. One of the key differences between a more traditional model of leadership and servant leadership is that the latter is a bottom-up approach, whereas the former is more top-down. The servant leader is servant first invested in the growth and development of others. What is exciting about servant leadership is that by putting others first, we find deeper fulfillment in ourselves.
With growing evidence that optimists live longer, happier lives, I am not sure what anyone gets of out being pessimistic, except early onset of heart disease. If you are prone to negativity, find quick distractions you can use when you realize you’re stuck on the same negative thought. It is possible to develop an optimistic world view through practice. A grateful mindset is a good start. Think about the long arc of your life when considering your success and not just the setbacks you may feel at the moment. Minimize your exposure to negative people and negative influences. Hang out with optimistic people. You are, after all, the average of the five people closest to you.
What if you incorporated these items as daily habits? I have seen from my coaching clients how this has a profound effect on the quality of work and life. You will reap both immediate and long-term benefits and you will begin to feel more fulfilled. Instead of focusing on weaknesses, flaws, limitations and malfunctions, mobilize your resources so that these qualities become part of your attitude and flow each and every day. What do you have to lose?
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Last thing, if you liked this post, consider checking out my other recent posts for inspiration and concrete actions steps to become more effective at work and life.
©2017 – All Content by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.