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Saturday, May 15, 2021

Chief Executive Insights

The 6 keys to lead with optimism

To look beyond any crisis, it takes optimism and resilience.  The global pandemic is proving to be both an opportunity and a defining time for leaders and organisations to challenge the status quo and lead with optimism. This opens the door to inspire and motivate people whilst tapping into the ability to envision a better future as we lead into the “next normal”

Research conducted by the University of California and Harvard looked at happiness and how contagious it was and discovered that when people are surrounded by happy people, they are more likely to become happy. As a leader It can be challenging to remain optimistic whilst juggling so many balls. By incorporating a few of the habits and behaviours below you can develop optimism as a leader to lead with strength, overcome adversity and keep moving forward.

The six keys to optimism 

  1. Make your self-talk optimistic
    Thoughts create our feelings and attitude, which result in our actions. Eliminate limiting beliefs and reframe your inner dialogue. Flipping a thought such as ‘This is change is hard’ to ‘What can I do to make the most of this situation?’ can change the way you look at the situation. Flip the script to serve you and how you feel. Remind yourself of the times you have been optimistic and conquered challenges.
  2. Remember to smile
    Make eye contact and smile, even to strangers – it’s more than likely they will smile back. Smiling activates the release of endorphins, dopamine and serotonin into your bloodstream – feel-good messengers known to work towards fighting stress. This helps your body relax and can lower blood pressure and heart rate. Even smiling to yourself is a great way to reset and lift your mood.
  3. Greet with intention
    Instead of asking, ‘How are you going?’, ask ‘What is the best thing that has happened today?’ Share something interesting when you start a conversation or a meeting. Flip the statements into questions. An example: “That team is high performing” to ‘What makes that team high performing?”. This opens up possibility and a curious mindset. Asking “What makes you make optimistic?” is a great way to open a conversation and the question in itself raises optimism automatically.
  4. Get laughing
    Laughter can bring people together and establish connection. Laughing stimulates the motor region of the brain to become active, and that’s what produces the physical reaction of laughing and the vocal expulsion of sound. It is known that when we laugh it can boost heart rate and mood, as well as the production of certain antibodies, strengthening our immune system. Create catch ups with your peers and teams where you discuss
  5. Surround yourself with optimists
    There is a saying that goes, ‘We are the sum of the people we spend the most time with’. We need to be aware of who we interact with and limit exposure to pessimistic people and situations, that can drain our energy and ultimately our optimism reserves. Ensure you spend time with people who light you up in and out of the workplace. When going through challenges ensure that you tap into others who energise you. Optimism is contagious, remember this can have a flow on affect to your team.

    Renée Giarrusso
  6. Be grateful
    Fostering an attitude of gratitude can maximise optimism. It helps us reframe memories of unpleasant events in a way that decreases their negative emotional impact. We can let challenges deepen the way in which we are grateful – they can show us not to take things for granted. It could be as simple as sharing an experience or work achievement you are grateful for. Being grateful helps us focus on the things we do have and the possibility those things bring. It also promotes a workplace culture of gratitude.

The key is to be authentic and ensure your optimism is real. Being open and vulnerable is the new black and optimism is a part of this. Be real and dial up your optimism in a way that reflects you.


Written by Renée Giarrusso. Have you read?
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Renee Giarrusso
Renee Giarrusso, author of Gift Mindset and Limitless leadership is a communication and leadership expert. She is a speaker, trainer, mentor and a professional coach (PCC) and works with leaders, teams and organisations to energise mindset and accelerate leadership and communication to lift performance and create collaborative and connected cultures.

Books by Renee Giarrusso:
Gift Mindset: Unwrap the 12 Gifts to lead and live a life of purpose, connection and contribution (Major Street Publishing; February 5, 2021).
Limitless Leadership: A Guide to Leading from the Inside Out (Bookpod; September 12, 2016).

Renee Giarrusso is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.