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The Successful Optimist

Why the language you use makes a difference.

Scott Halford

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TheSuccessfulOptimist

Glass half-empty or half-full? Does it really matter? As it turns out, it does matter. Those who explain things one way are better salespeople, have less depression and are more motivated than those who see things the opposite way. It’s about a thing called your explanatory style, and Dr Martin Seligman has conducted more than 600 studies that prove that optimistic explanations get you the good stuff, while pessimistic ones will often end exactly how you predict them – badly.

Here are a few things essential to understanding the science around explanatory style:

1. Optimists make more money and are more loyal.
In a study with life insurance agents, Seligman found that the most optimistic salespeople sold 88% more than the most pessimistic ones. Optimism is infectious

2. The optimist with high reality testing is a gold mine.
Optimism is not about fooling yourself and being all rosy. In fact, to be a successful optimist, you must not only have an accurate barometer on reality, but be able to see other options to that reality. If you are an optimist based in realism, you are statistically more likely to make more money.

3. Pessimists are more accurate about reality than optimists.
Optimists think that there are more options open to them when bad things happen. So they try different things in order to get out of a jam. Serious pessimists usually give up once they think the outcome is foretold.

4. There is nothing wrong with being a pessimist.
If your job requires high accuracy, pessimism may actually benefit you. Look out for what I explain in the next bullet before you succumb to pessimism, though.

5. Pessimists are more likely to become depressed than their optimistic counterparts.
If an optimist loses a job, it will take, on average, four to six weeks to get back into the hunt. If a pessimist loses a job, it can take three to six months before emerging to see the light.

6. Optimists keep moving forward because they believe there are options.
Pessimists don’t usually persist in the face of setbacks and can be prone to inertia. When salespeople are rejected again and again, it is the optimist who makes another phone call while the pessimist gives up.

The Problem

Becoming an optimist rather than a pessimist is simple to understand but can be difficult to execute because you’ve been practicing your explanatory style for at least a few decades now. It’s time to get over that and get more out of life and work. When bad events happen, pessimists tend to explain the calamity as:

  • Permanent. Behind on earnings: “We’re never going to hit our numbers.” There is no point in problem-solving at this point, since the worst is expected.
  • Pervasive. Mad at your accountant: “Accountants are such losers.” This is the tendency to explain all people or things in a category as bad if only one is bad.

The Fix

  • A little tweak in explanatory style when bad things happen and you become an optimist: temporary. Behind on earnings: “This is a bad quarter, but next quarter we have a few things in the pipeline to make up for it.” The optimist looks for options when things are bad, making the situation a temporary negative. This keeps them and others motivated.
  • Specific. Mad at your accountant: “I need to get a new accountant. This one’s not working out.” Optimists are specific about who or what is bad, and then they go find a good one.

In short, you’re more pessimistic if, when something negative happens, you believe that there are no other options (permanence) or that since there is one rotten apple, all of them are rotten (pervasiveness).

It doesn’t take much to see that a pessimist can get depressed in a big hurry with that kind of explanatory style. You can also see how it probably leads to inertia. The opposite explanation style is found in optimists and pessimists when good events happen. Pessimists think that if something good happens, it’s temporary, explaining that the stars aligned perfectly and probably won’t do so again in our lifetime.

On the other hand, optimists are more permanent when explaining good events. They believe that good happens because they have the right ingredients to create that positive event every time. Pessimists are specific about explaining the reason for good events, and when bad things occur, they believe it is pervasive. It is a choice you get to make. If you don’t think you have a choice, you’re exactly right. Enjoy the misery of it all.

Scott Halford, CSP is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer and an engaging presenter. His expansive knowledge in the area of achievement psychology, which includes brain-based behavioral science, emotional intelligence, critical thinking and the principles of influence add richness and depth to his programs.

Self Development

6 Mental Barriers You Must Tear Down To Succeed

The world has few obstacles as formidable as the ones in our own mind.

Timothy Sykes

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Mental Barriers

Have you hit a slump in your career? If you are finding it difficult to get ahead, it could be because you’re inadvertently holding yourself back in ways you don’t even realize.

Many of us have unhealthy habits and behaviors that stunt our career growth. By becoming aware of them, it’s possible to begin facing these obstacles head-on so that you can remove potential roadblocks to your future success. Here are 6 surprising things that are holding you back:

1. You don’t know the basics

What if you were to build a house on top of a weak foundation? It might be fine for a while, but one day, it would inevitably cause problems and affect your quality of life. Similarly in your career, if you don’t take the time to form a strong foundation of knowledge in your field, it may keep you from advancing and growing later on. Therefore, it’s vital to learn (and sometimes to re-learn) the basics.

There’s no shame in hitting the books and learning the basics or re-learning them, even well into your career. You know how when you re-watch a movie or re-read a book you pick up on things you didn’t notice the first time around? It’s very much the same in career education. So whether you’re a baker or an investor or a manager, make sure to develop a strong foundational knowledge of your field of work. It will serve you in many ways as your career advances.

Related: Purposeful Work: The Six Barriers To Fulfilment In The Workplace

2. Vague goals

Setting clear and specific goals is one of the major building blocks of career success. On the flip side, without specific goals, you’re more likely to suffer from lack of motivation and aimlessness in your career.

Want proof? Consider the work of Dr. Edwin Locke, who released a still-relevant article in 1968 entitled “Toward a Theory of Task Motivation and Incentives.” In this research-based article, he determined that employees were most highly motivated by clear objectives and specific feedback.

Working toward extremely specific goals provided a major source of motivation to actually reach the desired end result, which improved performance. Moreover, specific and difficult goals led to better task performance than vague or easy goals.

3. Caring too much what others think

According to Aristotle, “There is only one way to avoid criticism: Do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” Are you too much of a people pleaser? If so, this tendency could be holding you back from finding the success you deserve.

No matter what you do, you’ll never please everybody. Yes, you should always make your best efforts in any endeavour, and you should always try to be respectful of the opinions of others. However, don’t let other people’s opinions affect your every move. If you do, you’ll constantly operate from a place of fear and will never achieve great things.

4. You’re trying to figure out everything without a mentor

 Bill Gates, Bob Dylan, Oprah Winfrey. What do these people have in common? They’re all crazy successful…and they all had mentors.

Many people suffer from the belief that to become successful, they have to do the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest alone. However, this mindset is likely stunting their career and slowing down success. Truthfully, seeking out the guidance of a mentor is both a brave and smart career move. A mentor who is further along in their career than you can help advise you, point you in the right direction and help you avoid common pitfalls. There is so much to gain from having a mentor; why hold yourself back by trying to do everything alone?

5. Poor time management

Without a doubt, pursuing a new career or business endeavor takes time. Many people claim that it’s impossible to work toward their dreams because there’s just no time. But is this really true?

The fact is, nobody’s ever going to gift wrap extra time and give it to you like a present. It’s your responsibility to make time. It might involve changing some of your habits like bingeing on Netflix or getting lost on Facebook for hours on end. Or, it might mean that you wake up early in the morning like Apple CEO Tim Cook, who gets up at 3:45 so he can answer emails and take some time for himself before the responsibilities of the day descend. There are always ways to make time for what matters if you’re truly driven to succeed.

Related: Is Your Business Prepared For The Worst? How You Can Stress-Test Your Business

6. You stopped learning

Lifelong learning is a trait of the most successful people. Don’t you want to be one of them? If you think you know everything, then there’s no possible way for you to continue moving forward in your career or even your life.

As Malcolm X famously said, “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” When you approach the world as if you can learn from every experience and every person, you’ll reap many benefits. You’ll be able to keep improving, you’ll be able to remain mentally nimble, and since you won’t be a know-it-all, people will probably like you a lot better. Never stop learning if you want to keep growing.

Are any of these things secretly holding you back?

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Self Development

(Infographic) How 9 Creative Minds Got Their Ideas

From doing headstands to drinking 50 cups of coffee a day, check out the quirky things that these nine creatives have done.

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cat-in-the-hat

Coming up with new, creative ideas can be tricky. That’s why it’s important to find a way to get inspired. After all, it’s our own unique rituals that can bring mental clarity and creativity. That could be a quirky habit or routine such as doing headstands or wearing lots of hats.

Igor Stravinksy did headstands, which he believed helped to rest his head and clear his brain. Author Dr. Seuss felt that wearing lots of crazy hats helped inspire his creativity and overcome writer’s block. However, those aren’t even the strangest routines that some of the world’s most brilliant minds have utilised. Steve Jobs bathed his feet in toilet water to reduce stress levels while Honore de Balzac drank up to 50 cups of coffee a day.

Check out Business Backers infographic below to learn the weird ways that nine creative minds got their ideas.

1533319920_unusual-inspiration-infographic

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Self Development

15 Traits Of Unstoppable People

Unstoppable people keep their inner fires burning by developing the characteristics necessary to become successful.

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successful-people

Unstoppable people are like warriors. They are always ready to take on the world. They are guided by a light from within, full of boundless energy and unwavering in their goals. They have learned to activate their natural talents and develop the skills necessary to achieve whatever they aim for.

How do they do this? Where do they find the stamina and strength to keep going? Unstoppable people keep their inner fires burning by developing the characteristics necessary to become successful. Here are 15 traits that will help you go from being a solid achiever to being a truly unstoppable person.

Do you have any yet?

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