Archive for the ‘Influence’ category

Gratitude improves health, happiness, love-life, popularity and more

November 11, 2011

Scientific research brings us more proof of the power of gratitude!

A great blog post by Ocean Robbins…

The Neuroscience of Why Gratitude Makes Us Healthier






Optimists are Realists – the studies are in!

September 27, 2011
Guest Blogger: Terry Paulson   
When I wrote “The Optimism Advantage,” I was already sold on Seligman’s work on learned optimism. But in doing preparation for the book, I found other research that indicated that optimists are realists. It makes sense. If earned optimism comes from a track record of overcoming obstacles, than you’ve had the experience of facing, analyzing and overcoming problems. To do that, you have to really understand and accept the problem. They are realists because they believe that by understanding a problem, they can cope more effectively. Here are a couple of quotes that I saved that points this out.
“The myth: Optimists are amiable (probably IQ-challenged) Pollyannas who shield themselves from bad signs and aren’t prepared when trouble strikes. Lisa Aspinwall, a University of Maryland psychologist, got $50,000 for work showing just the reverse. She found that happy, optimistic people are more willing than pessimists to read bad news about their health habits and more willing to learn about their failures on tests. They also remember bad news longer than pessimists do. Far from being unrealistic Pollyannas, optimists give up sooner than pessimists when presented with unsolvable problems, Aspinwall discovered. ‘Pessimists may not want to know bad news about themselves because, unlike optimists, they don’t think there’s anything they can do about it,’ she says. Optimists may want to know where they’ve erred ‘so they can improve later—of course, they think they can improve.’ And their open approach promotes better relationships. Optimistic couples are more likely than pessimists to bring up what’s bothering them so it can be resolved. ‘They may be more confident that they can solve things,’ Aspinwall says, ‘but when something can’t be solved, they seem to recognize that earlier.’” Marilyn Elias (USA Today, 5-16-2000)“Numerous studies show that optimists, far from protecting their fragile vision of the world, confront trouble head-on, while it is pessimists who bury their heads in the sand of denial. In a 1993 study of women newly diagnosed with breast cancer, the women with an optimistic disposition were more likely to acknowledge the seriousness of the disease, experienced less distress and took more active steps to cope with it. ‘Pessimism was associated with denial and a giving up response.’ Said Charles Carver of the University of Miami, who conducted the study with Micahel Scheier of Carnegie Mellon University. ‘Optimism was associated with positively reframing the situation, with women believing, ‘This is not going to go away, so let me make the best of it I can.’’Carver said.” Terence Monmaney (LA Times, 1-5-2000, pp. A1, 15)

“A study of 78 men with AIDS provided evidence that optimists live longer. Those who indicated that they had a realistic view of their disease’s course died an average of nine months sooner than those who were optimistic about postponing the end…. The central paradox of positive thinking is clear—Clinging to the belief in a positive future against reasonable odds sometimes makes it happen.” Shelley Taylor, Positive Illusions” (January 8, 2000, 4A, Sun-Sentinel, South Florida)

Dr. Terry Paulson is a psychologist, professional speaker, columnist and author of the popular books “The Optimism Advantage,” “Leadership Truths One Story at a Time,” “Making Humor Work,” and “They Shoot Managers Don’t They?”

Video that speaks to positive life-transformation

September 27, 2011

Last year I blogged about this amazing nonprofit in “Deep full-life transformation“.

This video is a compilation of client interviews we made over about 6 months. Very inspiring!

Positive Change Agents – principles for enjoyable success

August 10, 2011

We’ve used these principles to guide our positive change projects for years.  

These principles are keys to motivating busy people.

  1. Take the time to make goals clear and simple.
  2. The easier it is to contribute the more people do it.
  3. Make starting steps doable and clear.
  4. Make sure people feel confident enough in their role.
  5. Frame goals, directions and other communication positively.
  6. Steady guidance at a strategic level keeps people on track and confident in success.
  7. Make questions specific, positive and generative.
  8. Keep focused on your top priority goal. Ensure that you’ve applied all the resources you need to to this goal.

Are you a positive change agent? – Survey

April 21, 2011

I’m not talking about secret agents … positive change agents are actually in the middle of the action, right in the public eye. They take risks all right, but the kind that help people and organizations grow.

See how many of these statements describe you to find out if you’re a positive change agent, a positive change agent in the making, or needing a weeklong retreat with a gaggle of positive change gurus. Then click the number that fits below the list.

  1. I look for a way to adapt when the change isn’t going my way.
  2. I know the journey is just as important as the destination.
  3. It is intuitively obvious that when people enjoy a change process it’s far more effective, fast and easy.
  4. I prefer to build on strengths and find the best in people, and not the old “break ’em down and build ’em the way you want them” method.
  5. It is obvious that the quality of a relationship is as important as the quality of an idea/product.
  6. I know why Appreciative Inquiry, Positive Psychology, Strength-based development, Positive Deviance, or Solution focus work so well.
  7. I’ve seen that win-win solutions make the most sustainable change.
  8. I’ve found that buy-in comes from authentic questions, real listening, and a chance to make a difference.
  9. I like solutions and talking about what to do far more than creating a list of problems and playing the blame game.
  10. I prefer a few core principles rather than a thick rulebook.

I’d love to hear more about how you create positive change.

Shifting the complex balance of decision making

March 1, 2011

Teeter Totter Effect


Influencing decision-making is challenging if you don’t have direct power.

Even when you do it can be incredibly difficult if there are enough demotivators present. Many of the factors influencing decisions are unconscious, making it challenging to even sway oneself. If you doubt me…

CHOOSING TO LOSE WEIGHT: What percentage of dieters reach their goals? Even though we have high control, it would seem, over what food we put in our mouths, there are many other factors acting as demotivators against the “lose weight” goal. We eat for many reasons including emotional ones that counterbalance the desire to look good.

USING THE TEETER TOTTER EFFECT: Part of the success of influence rests upon our ability and willingness to put more motivators on the teeter totter, and take demotivators.

MOST CHANGE EFFORTS FAIL: As many as 70% of mergers and acquisitions lose profitability. A majority of those are due to culture clashes. These are situations where there are way too many balls on the demotivating side, and they were ignored, not understood, or assumed to not make a difference. Plus, there is rarely enough personal reasons for people in the organizations to work hard to make it work.

Free illustration handout click Teeter Totter Effect

FOCUS: Often helping people focus more strongly on the aspects of the change that motivate them personally are key to gaining buy-in to a major change. Also reducing the things that make them want to avoid your changes as if they were poison.

For ideas on how to have a positive influence see other blog posts:

Positive Change Questions

Influencing your mood

Feedforward – influencing future good action

Focusing on clear goals

I’d LOVE to hear your ideas on how to tip the Teeter Totter to positive action. Please comment or send me an email.

Paradox of Vulnerability

February 20, 2011

Vulnerability can lead us to great harm… and it’s the only way to great joy.

Authenticity is our most powerful way of positively influencing others.

Brene Brown speaks powerfully about her own fight against vulnerability, and they way it led her to authenticity. This is a must see for any who want to see how “hard” research” deals with a “soft” topic.

If you value feeling connected to others watch this video.

Vulnerability - Path to Personal Power

Using classical music to inspire – video

December 18, 2010

This video shows Benjamin Zander in full glory presenting at Being a world-class conductor, he speaks to influence and leadership using marvelous musical analogies. He has wonderful stories that are worth the video themselves as well. And his shoe salesmen joke is a classic example of looking for solutions.

Deep full-life transformation

December 17, 2010

There is an organization that helps their clients truly transform their lives. The Care Center in Nashua, NH.

Their clients move from…

fear to confidence

despair to hope


homelessness to security.

I’ve had the deep honor of interviewing a number of their past clients. Almost every one has talked about living a life of fear,

in a home where the mother’s and children’s physical safety was always questioned…

or one step away from living on streets…

The Transitional Housing Program (their flagship service) is a tightly run process that truly gives the women and their families every opportunity and every tool that they need to transform their life.

They told me that the major ingredient the clients must bring to it is their own grit. They must also believe in the future life they want for themselves and their children. They have to adapt to the supportive guidelines, heal their emotional wounds in therapy, learn new parenting skills, and improve the way they deal with finances. When they did all of this, they succeeded.

I noticed that what usually first drove the women to the Care Center was fear and pain. What then helped the successful ones to transform their life was a vision of greater health, security and well-being for themselves and their children.

There are powerful lessons for all of us in changing our own lives.

  • Let the fear motivate you away from the danger; and then use the love for self and others to motivate to greater things.
  • Be willing to adapt to radically new ways of doing things.
  • Be grateful to those that offer you help – and take advantage of all the resources you can on your journey.


In the next few weeks I’m going to post video of some of the interviews, so that you too can be inspired by these heroic women.

The Power of Gratitude – the benefits of giving thanks

November 24, 2010

Giving thanks

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It is an opportunity to pause and take stock of what I am grateful for. In addition to turkey I can fill myself with the warm realization of what is good in my life.

Gratitude has a profound impact at work as well.

The obvious benefits of gratitude are:

  • When we thank others, it reinforces the behaviors we most want
  • It helps others to feel good about the way they impact us
  • We strengthen our relationships with those we’re grateful to

The less obvious, but equally powerful benefits are:

  • We positively change our own brain chemistry! Gratitude, and the mental images of things we like, trigger the release of endorphins and other biochemicals. These help us relax, recharge and refocus. We are then able to think more creatively, flexibly and positively.
  • These same changes influence our tone of voice, facial expression and even the words we use. Making us far more likely to positively influence others
  • There’s increasing evidence of a correlation between positive attitudes and health and longevity. That’s delightful.
  • Positive, grateful people tend to be more popular. I don’t know about you, but I find that helps me in so many ways.

I’ve found that I can hone this skill to the point of proactively looking for what I like about people and what they do and then causally mentioning these things in conversations, during trainings, etc. Sincere references like this help build rapport, enable others to feel safe opening up with me, and often engender return positivity.

Here are three ways you can use this power this week:

  • Gratitude List: Create a list of the people you are grateful to and why.
  • Gratitude Letter: Write a letter to someone who has positively influenced your life. Sending it makes it even better, although just the writing is enough to shift your own perspective.
  • Mention sincere praise to five people a day for the next two weeks. This helps it become a skill you can use any time, and hopefully a popularity-growing habit will form!

You depend on good relationships for almost everything you do in life. You might as well hone the powerful of gratitude to be happier, more successful and heck, it might even help you live longer!

For more information on building resilience through influencing yourself go to my post on this topic.


There’s also a great article in the Wall Street Journal on this topic.

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