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Finding the positive in COVID

With the winter solstice behind us in the Northern Hemisphere, the day light hours are growing a little bit longer. I find that these ebbs and flows of nature bring hope and encourage me to look for the positive.

This past spring, as we were in the midst of lockdown and I stood witness to my business crumbling, I would go for walks by the river. I found peace and solace being in nature. On many occasions, I would see a great blue heron or a bald eagle take flight and their beauty would lead to a surge of excitement within me for what's possible.

Even as lockdown ended, I quickly learned that the primary ways I used to find work and engage with clients were no longer available to me. But rather than fall into despair, I took it as an opportunity to usher forward changes I had already been working on.

I also realized that while the ways which I traditionally worked were mostly incompatible with the current environment, the foundations my business and services were built upon remained relevant and strong. If my business were a house struck by a hurricane, I lost parts of the structure and it requires significant repairs but the damage is not catastrophic.

And so, like many other entrepreneurs, I went about re-imagining my business by reflecting on how I could best serve and uplift leaders doing business as UNusual through this pandemic. While the Journal Jams quickly proved to be a valuable and desirable offer, other new programs I developed did not take off.

Rather than continuing to guess at what leaders need right now, I came to the conclusion that COVID had significantly disrupted the market and I needed to gain better insight into what that meant. So I started conducting interviews with leaders about the impacts of COVID.

To date, I have interviewed 28 leaders. I've heard stories of heartache and struggle. But what's more than that, I've witnessed an inspiring amount of resilience and positivity. The notion that COVID has only led to suffering and loss is an incomplete story. And I have found that the leaders with the greatest fortitude for navigating this disruption all have in common one thing, a positive disposition.

This is not surprising, given the ample research in positive psychology. The four traits, also known as positive psychological capital are hope, efficacy, resilience, and optimism (or HERO). The combination of these characteristics is what enables leaders to persevere in the face of adversity and rise above the types of disruptions we continue to endure.

More specifically, research has shown that "Psychological Capital has a positive impact on sustainable competitiveness. It is expected that the positive influences of psychological capital will reduce costs and mitigate negative influences in an organization."

One interviewee observed, "I think that it's it's easy to dwell on the stressful or the negative, and it's sometimes tough work but important work to find the silver linings in the positive beacons during all of this...So the first is the positive things that we've seen that people have risen to the occasion, that the strengths that we've had, as an organization around relationships and partnerships have actually just amplified."

Cultivating positive psychological capital doesn't mean we should look at the world through rose-colored glasses and ignore the hardships or struggles that are present. It's about being mindful of the story we tell ourselves in those trying moments.

At Rosabella Consulting, we frame challenges or problems as opportunities for growth. Embracing such a perspective turns issues that were once perceived as severely limiting into possibilities for positive change.

Without a doubt, this pandemic has led to hardships. And, as leaders, we mustn't keep our gaze solely on obsessing on the negative. We must continually train ourselves to look for the silver lining, while also supporting the emotional and physical well-being of ourselves and others.

At the latest Journal Jam, one of the prompts was "How has 2020 changed you for the better?" This simple question gently nudged participants into a positive frame of mind by engaging their pre-frontal cortex and promoting deeper reflection.

Because we are hardwired for negativity bias, we must exercise our muscles for finding the positive every day. With such consistent effort, we can become the HERO of our stories and expect that things will improve like the inevitable changing of the seasons.

Have a lot of good intentions for the New Year? Start 2021 off on the right foot by coming to our New Years Day Journal Jam and put yourself in position to turn those good intentions into reality.

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