Three techniques for a positive mindset (even when you’re rattled)

Written by Mark Rowland Tuesday 27 October 2020
Much of success comes down to developing the right mindset. A recent CMI webinar outlined three techniques to develop one
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Liz Hoskin CMgr FCMI is Chief Radiator at Positive Qualities. It’s an unusual role (and job title), but she says it reflects her positive energy. She’s spent her career working for retail giants such as Marks & Spencer, Tesco and House of Fraser before founding Positive Qualities in 2000.

On a recent CMI webinar, Make Today Amazing, Liz shared some techniques to help managers develop habits for success. “Like all good techniques, you need to practise,”she explains. “Malcolm Gladwell is one of my favourite authors and his book Outliers says to be an expert at anything you need to practise for 10,000 hours. You don’t necessarily need to practise these for 10,000 hours, but the more you do them, the more your habits will change.”

1. Successful people set their mood for their day

To get your mind ready to set your mood, just before you go to sleep, close your eyes and count backwards from three. “Do three threes, breathe in and breathe out, three twos, breathe in and breathe out. Three ones, breathe in and breathe out.”

Once you’ve done that, count backwards from ten, in groups of twos with each breath – ten, nine, then eight, seven; six, five, and so on. “When you get down to number one you're in a state of relaxation and your brain takes in information so much easier if you're in a relaxed mood.”

Once in that state, repeat a sentence to yourself three times that outlines what you’re most looking forward to that day, starting with: “Tomorrow, when I wake up in the morning, I’m looking forward to…” When you wake up the next day, lay in bed a moment and let that thought return to you. “Let it sit for two or three seconds, and then put your feet on the ground. That’s an easy way to set your mood. And the reason to set your mood is that it gets your day off to a great start.”

2. Successful people set their intentions

Setting your intentions helps you focus your attention, says Hoskin. “People get intentions and goals mixed up,” she explains. “A goal is a very tangible thing. It could be a new car or to own a detached house by the time you’re 40. But goals don’t just happen. Intentions help to make them happen.”

An intention is about understanding who you are and you’d go about achieving your goals. It’s about mapping out the steps you’ll take to achieve your goals for the day. For example, it could be to actively participate in a big meeting to help to develop your communication skills.

“Part of my intention today was all about being in the best frame of mind, the best way I feel, to give you the best session that you can ever have. Intentions are extremely powerful because once you set them, they really take you to the next level.”

3. Successful people pause when things derail

No matter how prepared for success we are, things will go wrong. Outside stressors can put pressure on you and make it harder to cope. And if you don’t deal with that stress, it can build until you risk burnout.

Liz recommends two techniques for dealing with stress when you’re feeling overwhelmed. The first is the ‘positive pause’: stop what you’re doing, stand up and stand still. Put your hands to your side. Stay in that position for a few seconds and let those negative feelings pass. Take a step forward and think to yourself: ‘I can handle this’.

“As you practise this as you go through your week, it’s amazing the different results you get,” Liz says. “Because the small things stop bothering you. It becomes part of your daily habits, and habits take time.”

The other technique is the mental pause. This helps to build resilience, says Liz. It is particularly useful if you feel like your work is getting on top of you and you feel yourself start to get anxious and panicky

Liz recounts a time where a client added to a project that created extra work. She felt a little rattled, so she sent a message saying that she would get back to them, then took 20 minutes on a walk, which allowed her to respond with a clear head.

“One of my go-to recommendations is to watch a TED Talk,” says Liz. “There are loads of inspirational talks and, as they’re only 17 minutes, they can fit into your working day.”

Don’t forget: help your team feel amazing too!

As a leader, you have a daily responsibility to your teams, says Liz. This is particularly true this year, as people have had to adjust very quickly to new, remote ways of working. “You need to bring out more of your authentic self to really encourage remote teams because there can be a bit of a disconnect.”

Through talking to teams as part of her work, Liz says that many employees want more empathy, compassion and trust from their leaders. “Leaders get quite taken up with what they’re doing… it’s OK when you’re in the office, you can have an open-door policy, but when everyone’s at home, it’s a bit more challenging.”

Liz recommends that you take time out to arrange coffee and chats with each of your team members to check-in with them and find out how they’re doing. Keep it informal and really listen to what they have to say. “At the moment, if you’re a positive leader, you’ll really succeed.”


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