Highly motivated individuals with ambitious goals are always striving to be better, accomplish more, and operate at their peak performance. The weight of all you want to do can be overwhelming and cause intense stress. Powering through might work for a short time, but you’ll inevitably hit burnout.
C-level leaders at top organizations like Facebook, Stanford, LinkedIn, Airbnb, and Twitter know this better than anyone. That’s why they hire executive coach Katia Verresen. In a recent post on First Round Capital, Verresen offered the top tips she shares with leaders to help maximize their performance, even when getting it all done feels impossible.
Verresen’s executive coaching strategy focuses on improving her clients’ energy, work flow, and capacity. No matter what their line of work or which day-to-day pressures they face, consistently maintaining balance and happiness is imperative to their success. She helps her clients develop a mindset she called abundant thinking: “a mindset that gives you the creative agency and grit to reach your vision—and, on a daily basis, to design your own life,” First Round explains.
Instead of reacting to what’s going wrong, Verresen’s entire approach centers on proactively curating a positive attitude. Through six simple re-framing exercises, Verresen helps her clients see the possible in the impossible, the positive in the negative, and the promising potential in any complex, roller-coaster ride of a far-reaching goal.
What’s more, each takes just five minutes or less. Any of these simple activities can dramatically boost your energy and set you on the path to maximum productivity.
1. Notice and Observe
When we’re crunched for time to accomplish something, our brains naturally hone in on that specific task. We don’t let anything else in. This blocks our thinking to observe external information that could help us see problems in a new light.
Noticing is a choice, and it can open up alternative viewpoints. Instead of devoting all your energy to this one thing, open yourself up to observe other potential angles. Even asking open-ended questions can be helpful. Tap into your natural curiosity to expand your knowledge. Learning an additional piece of information may be just what you need to reach a solution.
2. Adopt a Neutral Position
Preconceived notions and judgements can bog down your ability to move forward. Think about it. Have your judgements about a situation or particular individual involved ever really helped you advance a project?
If you feel yourself becoming judgey, try to adopt a neutral position in which you accept the situation is neither fair nor unfair. It just is. If you could be more neutral about the situation, you will be more open to accepting that other forms of thinking or points of view exist.
3. Prime Yourself for Positivity
Negativity breeds more negativity. If you’re feeling particularly negative, there’s an easy way to snap out of it: Spend five minutes doing something you already know will boost your mood. It could be as simple as looking at photos or listening to songs that make you happy. Verresen recommends having your go-to mood boost at the ready, so you can tap into it any time you feel your mood dip. It’s a simple way to mentally step back from the negativity inducing situation and come back to it when you’re feeling refreshed.
4. Cut Yourself Some Slack
There’s no denying that there are days or situations that will make you feel especially hopeless. This activity involves walking yourself through three simple steps that allow you to feel some self-compassion. First, admit that what you’re experiencing is a struggle. Second, acknowledge that you’re not the only one who feels—or has ever felt—this way. And lastly, determine something you can do right now to make yourself feel better. Focus on self-care, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
While this won’t make the stressful or emotional situation go away, being compassionate with yourself will improve your mindset when you come back to it.
5. Give Generously
If you consistently offer your skills or time to others, that generosity will come back to you. Remember you have a capacity to share a wide variety of things with others: attention, presence, kindness, knowledge, and access to resources are just a few mentioned. When you share with those around you and ask for help in return, you’ll begin to receive new perspectives and ideas back.
“Other people’s mind maps help you get unstuck,” says Verresen. “Remember, the people you know the least generally have the most power to introduce you to something new or change your mind.”
6. Practice Gratitude
When you’re always focused on what’s next, you tend to forget all you’ve accomplished to get here in the first place. Take a few minutes to revisit the past few months or even years of your career. What are you proud of? What are you grateful for? Don’t overlook your past successes. It’s worth reveling in them for a few minutes to build up your energy. You’ve already done amazing things. Harness that energy to charge onwards to do even more.
Want more? Check out the extensive post on First Round Capital, and dive deeper into more applications of these exercises to boost your positivity and abundant thinking.
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