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Widening Worlds Through Positivity

Our work in recent months has provided ample evidence of the power of positivity.

We have seen this in informal conversations, in leadership coaching sessions and in discussions with groups ranging from senior corporate executives to early-career aspiring leaders.

These examples of personal and professional commitment have reaffirmed our belief in positivity as an attribute, and as a practiced approach to conscious change.

This is critical combination: positivity as a quality, alongside positivity as an active discipline.

Not just how to create a positive mindset, but also how to act on it in constructive ways

Overcoming obstacles

Through continuing pandemic-related change, one approach has been to focus on what has been lost or irrevocably altered.

A wider view asks, “what is new that wasn’t here before?”

The key to jumping toward this future potential is to first identify those things that may be holding you back – and, as the World Economic Forum notes, the opportunity for constructive change is enormous.

A recent WEF article, “How to Overcome Your Fear of Failure”, highlights the benefit of a positive outlook in managing challenges. Put simply, success in the face of challenges comes not from a defensive effort to avoid failure, but instead from an action-oriented focus on what you hope to achieve.

The WEF authors offer pragmatic guidance on how to craft a positive path forward: be transparent, admit mistakes quickly, plan actively (don’t wallow) and “get back on the horse” if things go awry.

Above all, the WEF article notes that optimism isn’t abstract. It’s built and managed, and cultivating a persistently positive outlook is crucial: “Optimism is a feeling of positivity; persistence is what you do with it. It’s optimism in action.”

Widening worlds

If the first step is to climb above your obstacles, the next is to capture the new opportunities that become visible.

As a real-world example of this process, a recent coaching situation involved a senior marketer’s approach to a new CMO opportunity.

At face value, many potential challenges could have led them to walk away, including a long commute to another city, a new team to build and the technical aspects of a new sector.

Rather than dismiss the idea, they decided that the longer-term positives could outweigh any short-term inconvenience and – where a negative view could have seen them not even give themselves a chance – they forged ahead: the role become remote, the scope expanded, and their deepest areas of expertise became relevant as the company expanded into new business lines.

As a Forbes contributor notes (“Finding Positivity in the New Way of Work”), this ability to shift mindsets in order to pursue new work and life experiences can, quite literally, unlock the world.

Drawing on developments in the executive search sector, the article paints a dramatic picture that echoes our coaching experiences. With shifts toward more virtual organizations, people are actively – and successfully – exploring new roles far beyond their local markets.

Want to work five time zones away, rather than just five subway stops?

All it could take is creativity, and the power of a positive outlook.

Positive Intelligence

Your plan may involve stepping beyond past constraints to pursue opportunities around the world,

It may involve bringing optimism and positivity to commitments just around the corner.

Either way, we believe that the path forward can be actively managed.

Do you know which of your defensive tendencies might undermine your actions? Which of your strengths guide you toward positive and constructive achievement?

We have been studying this area of human behaviour science intensively, with particular focus on the Positive Intelligence work of Shirzad Chamine

Watch for more from us in the near future on our commitment to PI at Spark!


Jill Roussy and Wendy Shaw co-founded Spark Ideas Inc  to help people, teams and brands thrive. They bring extensive corporate and entrepreneurial experience to their work as coaches, mentors and facilitators. As coaches, Jill and Wendy focus on developing leadership, readiness and communication capabilities for young professionals, mid-career managers and senior executives.

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