You speak a lot about the importance of having an optimistic mindset. Can you expand on why that is so important?
It is important because our thoughts are potent weapons for all causes, both good or bad. They powerfully affect us and everyone around us. Unfortunately, studies show that negative thoughts are 4-7 times more powerful than positive thoughts. And the one thing more powerful than your thoughts are the words you speak. When you speak your thoughts aloud, it adds a multiplier effect of 10x. That means, when we choose to speak negative thoughts aloud, we increase the probability of an outcome different from what we want by 40–70 times!
That is why it is important to guard your thoughts and the words you speak. You may not be able to always be positive, but at least stay neutral instead of being negative. Simply try to hold a curious mindset and don’t do more damage by thinking or speaking negatively. As a wise person once said, “When you’re in a hole, stop digging!”
What is the most valuable thing you have learned lately?
The most valuable thing I have learned lately is that we never quit learning. Regardless of your age you can keep learning and getting better.
The Spanish cellist Pablo Casals, who was considered to be the pre-eminent cellist of the 20th century, had a career that spanned more than 81 years. In 1971, at the age of ninety-five, he performed before the United Nations General Assembly. After his performance, a journalist asked him, “Mr. Casals, you are 95 and the greatest cellist that ever lived. Why do you still practice six hours a day?” He answered, “Because I think I’m making progress.” His continual pursuit of learning was the secret to why Pablo Casals appeared to keep getting better, regardless of his age.
Current studies in neuroscience reveal that people have more capacity for lifelong learning and brain development than we ever imagined. Regardless of your age or life experience, you can create new connections between brain cells. It is called neuroplasticity and you can make it work for you! Your brain is incredibly malleable and you can prepare it for higher levels of learning and performance by continuous reading, visualizing, and repeatedly practicing what you want to achieve and master. Give it a try!
This COVID ordeal has been going on too long! Do you have any encouraging words to help deal with it with it?
During these trying times it is more important than ever to develop a state of resilience, which not only helps you to survive, but to learn, grow, and thrive in change. Resilience isn’t a trait that people are born with; it involves thoughts (mindset) and actions that can be learned and developed in everyone. Having reslience doesn’t mean you won’t struggle, make mistakes, or need to ask for help. It simply means you’ll keep moving forward, regardless of what difficulty you face.
You can not only weather this storm, but cultivate outstanding changes in your life by choosing to: think about what you think and speak.
Our thoughts and words are powerful. What you think and speak about, becomes self-fulfilling prophecy. Shakespeare once said, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” What story are you telling yourself about the current situation?
In the Chinese language, the word crisis is represented by two distinct symbols: one means danger and the other opportunity. Within every crisis lies an opportunity if you’ll keep your eyes open and look for it.
Don’t waste a good crisis! Turn this into an opportunity to grow stronger, more resilient, and better than you have ever been.
Do you have any heroes?
Yes, and I’m glad you asked because I am reading the autobiography of one of them right now, entitled Long Walk to Freedom, by Nelson Mandela.
He lived a remarkable life—from tending cattle as a boy to working as a fiery young lawyer in Johannesburg, then leading the underground wing of the African National Congress before being wrongly convicted of conspiring to overthrow the state and serving 27 long, lonely years in prison. For 18 of those years, he was housed in an 8-foot by 7-foot concrete cell with only a straw mat to sleep on and singled out daily for humiliating punishment by his jailers.
One quality above others, that caused Mandela to stand out was his capacity to forgive and to let go of the past. After he was elected president of South Africa, he insisted on inviting one of his former jailers to dinner. On another occasion, he invited the state prosecutor, who trumped up the charges that sent him to prison, to lunch. The man questioned how Mandela could even think about having lunch with someone who had wronged him so maliciously. Mandela’s answer captured the essence of his character: “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison.”
After being elected president of South Africa a reporter asked Mandela how he withstood all those years of torture in prison. He simply replied those weren’t years of torture, they were years of preparation, that prepared him to lead his country.
Trust is a huge issue for people right now. What are some key things a leader can do to build trust?
This is a great question and very timely for the current environment. To build trust, we believe leaders must be B.R.A.V.E. in their interactions with others. This is an acronym that has been adapted and modified from ideas Brené Brown shared in her book Dare to Lead. Leaders must examine their behavior through the following lens:
If you practice these trust principles, you’ll become the type of leader people will want to follow.