|Earlier this week I was sitting at Starbucks working on some ideas for an article when Andrew, a former client of mine, dropped by my table to chat. I asked how things were going in his new role. (He was recently promoted to V.P. of marketing to replace his former boss.) He frowned and said, “I have been so stressed out since I took this job. My department is a mess.” He went on to share a whole list of things that were not going right. As he continued, I could see him getting more anxious. “I will be glad to have some time off this week,” he concluded.
Many of the leaders I coach have overwhelming challenges, and they come quickly, sometimes one right after the other. Without the right resources, this enormous responsibility becomes too much, especially when there is an increasing pressure to produce results quicker than ever. In fact, most organizations expect their leaders to search out what is not working and fix it, with little guidance or support.
Because of this, I often find leaders automatically default and begin to start sharing what is going wrong as opposed to what is going right. This overemphasis on the negative is directly proportional to added stress and anxiety. And, the worst part, it impacts their wellbeing and the people around them.
I believe it is more important than ever to help leaders shift their thinking. And it all starts by simply focusing on what is going well! This change in mindset can help leaders flourish and achieve unexpected results. This attitude is a powerful one—it can have a huge impact on how leaders feel about themselves and others, setting them up for lasting success.
So, what can you do?
Martin Seligman, a leading authority in the field of Positive Psychology, has devised a simple technique to address this, it is called the Three Blessings Exercise. This exercise demands that you focus your attention as you end your day on three things that went well and why they went well.
The Three Good Things exercise is intended to increase happiness and a sense of well-being.
This exercise is to be done each night before going to sleep.
Step 1: Think about anything good that happened to you today, anything at all that seems positive. It doesn’t need to be anything big or important. For example, you might recall the fact that your co-worker thanked you for helping them develop a difficult presentation.
Step 2: Write down three positive things that came up during your day.
Step 3: Reflect on why each good thing happened. Determining the “why” of the event is the most important part of the exercise. For example, you might say that your co-worker respected what you had to offer. Remember, you get to decide reasons for each event that make sense to you.
Busy? Take out your phone and send a dictated e-mail to yourself during the day when you experience something you feel grateful for. At the end of the day, read these and reflect on why they happened.
Having just celebrated Thanksgiving this past week, it’s a time for all of us to really take stock of what we are thankful for. Let’s count our blessings; it is important for our happiness and well-being.
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