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Tom:
Hi guys and welcome back to the learn, grow, succeed, leadership podcast. Thank you so much for joining us again this week. Over the last month or so you’ve been treated to a few new formats of the podcast where we had Katherine and Karin talking about mentoring in more of an interview format, and it’s been really successful. A lot of you out there have downloaded and we’ve had some great feedback. So what we’ve decided to do is continue that methodology. So this week I am welcoming Alex from the Excel team onto the podcast.
Now, if you get any of our biweekly emails, you’ll recognize Alex’s name because he is our author extraordinaire who writes our blogs. I am going somewhere with this because the reason Alex is on is because what we’ve decided to do is bring our blogs to life by talking about them in a little bit more detail on this podcast. So Alex, welcome to the learn grow succeed podcast.

Alex:
I’ve been described as many things and I’ll take all for extraordinaire! I’ll add that to the top of the list of things I want to be described as.

Tom:
I’ll be careful what I get myself into!
So at this point on the podcast, we always say welcome to anyone who’s new. Thank you so much for joining us and equally, if you’re a long time listener, thank you for joining. Know that the blogs that we’re going to talk about today and going forward are all on our website, along with a whole host of other, content to support your learning journey. Do head over to excel-communications.com and check it out and you can also find it on all the usual social channels.
So let’s get into it. What I didn’t say at the very start is what this week’s podcast is even about. But hopefully you’ll figure that out from the title… So this week we’re going to talk about growing a positive mindset.
The title for the blog is ‘how to instantly stop negative thoughts and grow more positive mindset’. Something that you know is always been important, but even more so now than ever with all the, change and turmoil that’s happened in the world in the last 18 months. So Alex, give us a little bit of an overview and intro into the blog for this week.

Alex:
Yeah, I’d love to, so again, as you just mentioned, there’s been a lot of change in the world in the last year. I think maybe we’ve all even been there at some stage or different magnitudes, but we’ve all had different ups and downs and it can be very easy to get in this rut of negative thinking.
So what we did with the blog was we decided to just list a few things that you could make habits, to ensure that even when things that are far from ideal happen, you can turn negatives into positives.
I think it was important to preface the start of the article that negative thoughts are normal.
If you’re thinking something negative, that’s a normal reaction to anything. You shouldn’t punish yourself for that. However, this is all about how we can turn negative things into constructive, positive things, and things that you could almost look forward to in a way. So we’re going to chat through some of those now.

Tom:

We don’t want to be a stigmatizing negative thoughts. It’s not about that. It’s about making, making you as positive as possible and all the benefits that that will bring to your life.
So what we’re going to do is we’re going to talk through the tips one by one, and just explore what they mean to us.
So, the first point in the blog is about looking for good in situations. Tell us a bit more.

Alex:
So this one, yeah, it sounds incredibly obvious to look for the good, and I think when writing this one, I was thinking about all those times where if you feel down or you don’t feel particularly happy people give you that really unhelpful bit of advice of, oh, well, you know, just feel better.
But this, this is all about how in every situation there’s positives, even if it is an overwhelmingly negative one on the outset, there is always something positive that you can take from it. So it’s about taking a look at what’s happened and looking at what you can gain from it. What would make it an experience worth having? Because everything is an experience you can learn.
Even in the worst situations, what can I take from it? What’s the positive in there?

Tom:
Yes absolutely. And I guess there are quite a few cliches in this. You don’t get bad without good. Without feeling sad, you don’t feel happy and that kind of thing.
And also I think what really rung with me when I was reading about looking for good is that I try really hard these days to surround myself with more positivity, as much positivity as I can. I used to be an avid listener of the news every morning for probably an hour. But it used to make me grumpy as the media has a way of focusing on all the negatives and not covering any positives a lot of the time. So new I try not to do it. You know, you have to keep abreast of what’s going on in the world, but I don’t look at the detail anymore.

Alex:
I’ve just got this mental image of you now. The six o’clock news comes on, you’re clenching your fists, banging them against the table.
Everything does go wrong in the world, but it’s true. I think if you look for the good, you’ll find it. If you’ll look for the bad, you’ll find it. It’s all about what you’re, what you’re focusing on and what you’re looking to take from things.
I think news gets better when you get to like the end, when it’s kind of got the funniest stories, you can, you can laugh at those a bit more. But I’m exactly the same. I tend to look at what I need to know but I try not to go looking for too much because it’s quite often it’s easier to find the things you don’t want to find.

Tom:
I did see a silly meme on social media and it does link back to this positive message about looking for the good. It showed two articles (and I can’t remember the words specifically), but the headline was about how a couple couldn’t buy a pie in Morrison’s before 7:00 AM. The second article was about the couples victory as they persuaded Morrisons to sell pies earlier in the day.
Very British headlines, but clearly one was away from (negative) and one was clearly towards (positive) but about the same story!
[Read more here – https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/16174733.morrisons-pasty-couple-hot-topic-got-news/]

Alex:
To be honest, I mean, that makes me feel much happier knowing that I could go to Morrison’s at 6:59 AM and grab a pie. That’s cheered me up pretty quickly.

Tom:
So the second point is about contextualization or to contextualize. I guess this one isn’t immediately obvious what you might mean by this. Tell us a bit more.

Alex:
Yes as it’s slightly cryptic. I think, again, this kind of leans on the previous point a little in terms of, if you’re looking for positives, obviously you have to look at the situation a bit clearer and separate it from some of the emotions that you’re feeling. Or as an in the metaphor at the start of the blog, we said that; if your life is a movie would this thing that’s happening to you be a part of the plot, or would it not even make through the director’s cut?
Because I think it’s quite easy to think that latest thing that happens to you is the most important thing. If it’s bad, it can overwhelm every other thing going on in your life. And I think that if you contextualize, look at things as a whole, get a wider perspective, you’ll see that actually because it has just happened, it doesn’t mean it’s the worst thing in the world. And there’s so many other things that are going on that outweigh it massively and therefore it’s not as bad as it first seemed.
So it’s just second positioning. Look at yourself from another perspective and see everything else that’s going on rather than just that thing.

Tom:
Yes I know what you mean, everything builds up and like you say, all these tiny little things suddenly become super important in your mind. So the number one tip I always give people is, if you’re feeling like that, then you have to stop. Write everything down on a piece of paper and prioritize them.
By writing them down and looking at them as a whole, you’re contextualizing everything and realizing that one thing that was bothering you is not as important as something else and, and that’s, that’s a positive.

Alex:
And then there’s, there’s a science to back this up. I mean, I’m going to sound not particularly credible here, but there is a study done by someone somewhere or there’s facts in a book that I’ve read that I don’t know all about the effects of stress and how it physically can make you more tunnel visioned. And by stepping away and taking a breath and seeing things for what they are, it can be hugely helpful.
[For me click here – https://www.samatters.com/understanding-stress-part-5-tunnel-vision/]

Tom:
Yeah, true. Again, I can’t quote anyone, but it does. You lose your peripheral vision when you’re stressed.

Alex:
We promise it’s true!

Tom:
Then the next one. And we’re back to a slap bang in the face of something that could be obvious, and that is about smiling.
Before you give us a little bit more information, I just want to shout out one of my good friends here. A guy called Sam Brown [check him out here – https://www.linkedin.com/in/hospitalitycrmandgiftcards/].
Now Sam Brown is a sales director for a really successful business (look him up on LinkedIn, say hi) but he once told me many, many years ago that when he was brought up his mom told him that every time you walk through a door, put a big smile on your face. That will set you up for a successful life because you’ll feel better about yourself and the people in that room will just immediately feel better and more positive and happier about whatever is about to happen. And ever since he told me that I try really hard to do it. It’s a really valuable and important life lesson that I took.

Alex:
What guy, Sam brown, a connection requests is on its way!
So again there’s science behind this. If you smile, whilst it might seem a bit crazy, if you’re in a room and you’re just smiling to yourself that there is genuine benefits behind why you should do it, even if, sometimes there’s no immediate reason. There’s the same effects behind laughing.
You know, we always feel better when we’re laughing and we always feel better when we’re smiling. And I think in our brain, we relate those actions to good things. So even when there’s something not obviously good going on, it still helps us feel a lot less stressed and it elevates our mood massively. So as we said before, um, that there’s reasons why, um, actual scientific reasons.
[Here’s the proof – https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190412094728.htm]
You should, you should wear a smile as often as you wear shoes or other clothing. So yeah, every room you go in, smile.

Tom:
It is important, it is a physical response, as well as a psychological and emotional response to smiling. It does genuinely affect your body and make you healthier and happier in the process.

Alex:
And other people when they see you smiling, they to all of a sudden become much more attractive to approach, to talk to, and to converse with. It’s hugely effective for the people around you as well.

Tom:
Next on the list is, is positive affirmations. So, a lot of people listening to this might think this is sitting down and chanting to themselves in sort of a monk style. Is that what you mean?

Alex:
Yeah, sort of, well, it depends on your preference.
If how you like to spend your evenings, then, then absolutely. There’s, there’s no wrong way of doing it. I think the most important thing when it comes to positive affirmations, they should be personal, it can be very easy to just say empty phrases as if they’re going to be like some verbal medicine that’s going to help you feel much more positive.
I think the thing to figure out about positive affirmations are what words get you going. What gets your heart pumping, the blood coursing through your veins and your adrenaline flowing because you need something that’s going to build up your spirit and not just things that you think sound positive, they need to actually be positive.
So the metaphor we used in the blog is when you play a sport and you get to halftime in a game and you’ve got team talk. It needs to be appropriate for the situation, but it needs to get everyone moving in the same direction, motivated and inspired. And this, is very much a personal team talk.
If you’ve got something coming up, take yourself aside, say what you need to say, what you need to know, tell yourself the truth about how great you are and all these things that you should be positive about and then basically get out there and smash it.

Tom:
So, so important. I was on a workshop literally before we recorded this actually, and we were talking about motivation.
As a skill of a leader for both motivating yourself and those around you. And we were talking about how, anyone can be motivated as long as there’s a big enough reason. And those reasons generally stem from your values as a person. And we could do a whole blog or podcast on that, but the reason I go into it is because if you can think about your values as a person and then relate those affirmations to those values, you are giving yourself a reason to be positive and to help you achieve the things that you want to achieve.
Not just because someone around you told you to, but because it’s meeting your values as a person.

Alex:
I think again, it’s about fault patterns. I think if you’re in a negative spiral, perhaps thoughts that aren’t particularly helpful, then, start a new rhythm of positive thoughts and break the negatives and feed yourself some positives. A lot of it is just about consistent, positive thinking because, you know, we need to need to keep it going.

Tom:
Awesome, so the next one is about others.

Alex:
Again kind of like smiling, well kind of like any of these, I think as soon as you’re kind of radiating positive energy, it attracts others, but this point is all about the importance of your circles. The people that you spend your time with, the people that influence you because ultimately you’re a result of the people that you spend your time with.
And if these people are always on the brightest side of things, never really too downbeat and pessimistic. I mean, we’re all human. So we all have these moments. However, if the majority of them have this kind of can-do energy and attitude, then naturally it will, it will rub off on to you. As humans, empathy is very powerful.
And I think as soon as someone feels something, we can feel very similar emotions. So if these people are… I was going to sound cloud nine, but if they’re on cloud nine all the time, they might be quite annoying… But if these people are always, you know, looking for what’s possible rather than what isn’t possible, then what great people to be around.

Tom:
Again, I think we’re doing ourselves a disservice without being able to quote some of these people. But recently I was reading about how people are either radiators or their drains https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/sarah-pylas/radiator-or-drain_b_7630554.html
What you want to do in life is surround yourself by as many radiators as possible. And as the metaphor suggests, these are the people that ooze positivity, and you leave being with them with more energy than when you arrived.
Drains are people that sap your energy. When you leave, having spent time with those people, you actually feel worse and with less energy. I’m not saying that as soon as you find someone like that, you should never speak to them again, but it is about being aware of the energies that you take from or give to people and making sure you are receiving more than you give, because otherwise, you’ll run out.

Alex:
See Tom it’s your nature as a radiator that keeps me coming back.

Tom:
So swiftly moving on… well, I’ll link this one into the next point, which is gratitude. So, I mean, thank you for, for that lovely comment Alex. So gratitude. It’s important to be grateful for the things you have in life and not constantly, having that negative outlook of where you need more.
It’s about looking at everything that you are grateful for in life right now. My wife keeps a journal of things that she’s grateful for, a gratitude journal. Every day she can write it down, whether that’s something small, like being grateful that she can have a nice hot cup of tea in the mornings all the way through to the fact that, we have a couple of lovely, healthy little boys. No matter what the situation is, you can look at those and realize that you have a lot to be positive about. Is that kind of the gist of what you were getting at on this one?

Alex:
Yeah, absolutely. I think you’ve given some cracking examples there of how there’s certain things in life that we need to not take for granted, but also as well, we can’t think about them every single minute of every single day.
The fact that the odds of us being right here right now, living and breathing are quite, quite big. Um, again, couldn’t quote an exact number. But again, that’s huge, but if you were to think of that 24/7, and always have that on your brain, that would be quite bizarre.
So I think what gratitude enables you to do is bring those positive thoughts back to the front of your mind. Re-circulate them, get them flowing through you again, because they’re, they’re hugely important. They’re not always going to be things you think about, but there are things that you should remind yourself of.
It’s such an easy little thing to say to yourself or write down things your grateful of in the morning. It takes what, 30 seconds to write down a few things and develops a habit that could have a huge impact.

Tom:
Last but not least is why is it important? And this is knowing why it is important to manage your positive mindset. Right?

Alex:
Yes. And I suppose it is a point that could be relevant for a blog about anything. Knowing why something’s important is always important.
The things in this blog could make me think more positively, but what’s your motivation to have a more positive mindset in the first place? What are you actually looking to achieve if you become more positive?
You have to have some outcomes in mind because then I think you’ll build the motivation in order to make these things habits. It’s the same with anything. If you would say to me, oh, I want to learn how to cook; it’s good to know why you want to learn that to build up the will so you see it through to its end.

Tom:
Yes this is hugely important. The classic question, the WIIFM, the what’s in it for me. Why do I want to be more positive when I quite enjoy being the moany guy.
Think about that one. Alex and I can’t give you answers for why it’s important to be positive. I think you’ve picked up some in everything that we’ve just said, but I think actually if we’re going to leave you with anything it is to ask yourself that question. Why is it important to develop and nurture your positive mindset in life?

Alex:
And I think this, like you just said there, it does take some honesty and some self-awareness, it might not be easy for people to sometimes sit down and go, do you know what I am incredibly grumpy. Maybe I’m not great to be around at times, but you know, when you do think those things, there’s something that can be fixed. That’s the good thing about mindsets is that they’re always evolving and that you can always feed yourself new information and new habits to improve your situation.

Tom:
Yes, 100%. Well, I’m feeling very positive having talked through all of those points. Thanks so much for going through it with me Alex and everyone listening.
Let us know what you think of this new format. the plan is to do these every week or two as the blogs come out and we’d love your feedback and to know what you like and what you don’t like so it can be the best it can be.