In my latest article, I look at the top 9 positive attributes you need for success.
Nearly ten years ago, leading American psychologist and professor Barbara Fredrickson published a paper on what she described as the ‘Broaden and Build’ theory of positive emotion. At a stroke it changed how many people began to view the challenge of personal development.
Her work argues that in order to achieve tangible success in anything, you must first develop and nurture a range of positive emotions that help to overcome the natural negativity bias that is built into the DNA of every human (in fact, into every animal).
Negativity bias is the instinctive caution that suppresses what our subconscious might deem as reckless spontaneity or optimism.
And if you look back at man’s early beginnings, that makes sense – we may to all intents and purposes be apex predators in the modern world, but long ago our primary consideration was to avoid being eaten by a bear or mountain lion.
Developing healthy positive attributes allows us to dial down our disinclination toward risk and instead seize opportunity with confidence and belief.
The Broaden and Build theory is closely aligned with coaching through applied neuroscience, because the development of those attributes is intrinsic to the mindset that is needed in order to have the greatest chance of achieving the goals you set for yourself.
Using neuroscience in coaching allows the individual to recognise and understand how their brain and nervous system respond to certain triggers and stimuli, and then sets the framework that helps to replace unhelpful or negative behaviours with alternative responses that embody a successful mindset.
Here, then, is my guide to the top 10 positive attributes you need to focus on in order to achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself:
Hope and optimism (which features further down this list) are often mistakenly interpreted as being the same thing, but they’re not. Optimism generally applies to the belief that a certain event or set of circumstances will work in your favour – e.g. that you’ll get that job or promotion you went for.
Hope is a more generalised emotional state and represents the belief that, broadly speaking, everything will turn out okay in the end. Hope is necessary because it sets the macro mindset within which optimism is able to flourish.
Curiosity is your friend in the pursuit of success because it generates the inner self-encouragement necessary for you to explore beyond the limits of what is familiar and comfortable. Without curiosity, you are more likely to ‘settle’ for the dependability of the status quo.
Interest is the cousin of curiosity and relates to motivation. Without interest, we are less motivated to do or achieve anything, so interest is the formidable ‘enforcer’ that helps to make curiosity productive. Curiosity is wondering what would happen if you applied for a more senior role; interest is reading the job spec and then filling out and sending the application form.
Cheerfulness is a by-product of optimism and hope and it’s essential in forming and shaping our verbal and physical interaction with others. Cheerfulness generally serves to enable us to be more engaging and more emotionally attractive to people and can be a crucial delineator in competitive processes.
If we don’t have inspiration we are far less likely to reach higher or further in our self-development. Lack of inspiration is intrinsically limiting. Inspiration extends our personal horizons, helping us to see and identify greater opportunity.
When we are in an expectant and anticipatory frame of mind, we tend to be hungrier and more productive in the pursuit of achievement - and more receptive to the choices opportunity brings. Anticipation is part of what moves us to get out of bed each day and see the challenges ahead as opportunities to shine and thrive.
We’ve already talked about the relationship between hope and optimism, but optimism has its own place on this list because it is essential in shaping how we approach and then tackle individual tasks and opportunities. Believing that each task will be achieved is the foundation of then completing it successfully.
Gratitude, in this context, is often misunderstood. We generally perceive gratitude to relate to the thanks we give or show for a kindness shown to us. However, in this case gratitude is about gleaning satisfaction from your achievements. If endorphins are the natural high you get from exercise, gratitude is the high you get from achievement – and it drives you to recreate that feeling in the future.
Having a positive mindset that is brimming with the attributes I’ve laid out above puts you in the best possible position to achieve your personal and professional goals – but it doesn’t guarantee that everything you turn your mind to will end in success.
Serenity is the powerful attribute that not only enables you to keep your nerve in challenging situations but also allows you to see the bigger picture. With serenity comes unshakeable confidence.
Together, all these attributes coalesce into a potent cocktail of psychological strength that makes us more adventurous, more resilient and more focused.
When this emotional tour de force is harnessed to identified objectives, whether those are personal or professional, we are far more likely to reap the rewards of success.
If you’d like to find out more about how coaching with neuroscience can help you to unlock and unleash your positivity and set you on an new life trajectory, why not get in touch for a free, no-obligation chat? I’d love to hear from you!