If you want to Succeed then Stop Moaning

.... and stop your team moaning too! Being miserable or downbeat even when justified as simply being 'realistic' is a sure fire way of making sure you miss opportunities to succeed.

Cutting edge research shows that people in a lighthearted mood often have 'breakthrough' moments of sudden inspiration where those in a more serious frame of mind do not. This of course isn't new information for those of us who instinctively knew that a smile always beats a frown hands down when it comes to negotiating challenges. 

For those with an eye to insights from the past, take a look at the Ancient Egyptian book of the dead. Pictures and inscriptions from thousands of years ago show the recently deceased being judged; their heart weighed against a feather. Being light hearted was the way to make it through to a better afterlife as a feather represented 'maat', their name justness and truth. On the basis that it's far more likely images were chosen to represent something rather than randomly selected, I'm guessing that someone all those years ago made the link between better judgments and a light hearted approach - even if the term light-hearted came from them! 

A smile as opposed to a frown feels like being more open to new or unusual ideas.

Now science has demonstrated that it is. In the USA's Northwest University, experimental psychologist Karuna Subramaniam and her colleagues found that boosting the mood of volunteers increased their likelihood of having 'eureka' moments that helped solve a puzzle. Those who were shown a comedy DVD did much better than the rest who sat through a talk on electronics or watched a scary movie.

When a person gets a sudden insight a specific part of the brain is activated (the anterior cingulate cortex or ACC). This part of the brain regulates attention; in problem solving it seems to function alongside other parts of the brain that help a person stay focused on a plan or switch to a new one. The researchers found that the upbeat volunteers had more activity going on in their ACC which probably helped the brain find new solutions. Whereas those who were more downbeat, because of what they'd been exposed to, had less activity in their ACC and were so probably less chemically prepared to find those novel ideas needed to solve the task.

Imagine then the scene: It's a tough commercial environment. Savings have to be made. New revenue streams must be developed. More profit from less resource is necessary for survival. A touch of magic might be required for growth!

That's the puzzle that's facing many businesses right now. But how are their leaders addressing it? Are they doing the commercial equivalent of having the team laugh their socks off or making then sit through something to scare them enough to wet their pants before looking for answers?

Unfortunately more often than not it's the latter. That's such a shame because although it appears to make sense intellectually to lay out the problem and potential consequences in all its gory detail, it's just about the worst thing to do if the aim is to solve the puzzle.

New answers require new thinking. New thinking is much more likely to come from a positive, smiling and self confident group of people. Frightened or downbeat people just won't have the brain chemistry to cut it.

The job of the leader is to make that happen. So what are you doing in your business to solve the problem?

Written by Martin, Business Coach at Notion

Kind regards

Laura Ashley-Timms - Director of Coaching