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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Importance of Positive Emotions

Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, Kenan Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, discusses her new book, Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive in this video:


A Recipe for Greatness

In order to become great at any profession, whether it is being a nurse, professional athlete or corporate leader, it is critical to have a philosophy that guides your actions and behaviour.  Without such a philosophy, you will easily become distracted by the multitude of various avenues open to you each and every day.  You will lose focus of your goals and aspirations and, unfortunately, experience the frustration of having tried to follow several paths half-heartedly instead of one with a single purpose.  But it does not have to be this way at all.  We each choose every day what principles and postulates we will use as the guiding paths for our life.  

The main point is to decide what your philosophy of greatness is and do everything you can to adhere to this philosophy on a daily basis. 

Many of the building blocks below come from quotes and ideas included in the books of great athletic coaches.  These ideas have been grouped together based on the theme they represent.  The first three components below compromise a general attitude or view you must have in order to become great.  These all-encompassing principles permeate the remaining nine categories on achieving greatness.
General Attitude

Personal Action  The single most important component of becoming great is making yourself become great.  If you want something bad enough, you will achieve it.  If you do not achieve it, you will die trying, you will achieve something equally as satisfying, or you will realise you did not want it that bad.  Remember that "you are the maker of your own fortune." 

The Dream  Once you believe you can control your future, you then get to decide what the future will be.  Some might argue that the first categories should be reversed because you must have a dream before you can act on it.  However, if the first two are reversed, the dream of your future is the driving force.  While the dream is vital to becoming great, it cannot come before the person because then, by definition, you do not have ultimate control of your future, the dream does.  

Personal Responsibility  Personal responsibility goes hand in hand with personal action.  If you control your own future, then you are responsible for your future.  This is true whether your future turns out great, or turns out poorly. To conceptualise these first three categories and how they work together, think of it this way: you control your future (personal action); you get to decide what that future is (the dream) and you are responsible for how that future turns out (personal responsibility).

Attributes of Great Athletes   

#1  Enjoy Living  

In order to become great, you have to enjoy becoming great.  This means that you wake up every day and look forward to making yourself better that day.  However, this is easier said than done, especially when many of the experiences along the way may not be fun.  But if you can enjoy the learning that occurred in these experiences and be satisfied that you made it through an experience many others could not, you will enjoy yourself much more.  Like the song says, "Don't worry- be happy".  

#2  Leadership 

In order to become great or help others become great, you have to act great.  It is not enough to think great.  If you are not going to act as you think, you cannot expect to achieve what you want to achieve.  Also, you cannot expect others you lead (students, athletes, employees, etc.) to act great if you do not act great.  

#3  Teamwork 

People can't become great by themselves.  Sure, you must do most of the work and take personal responsibility for making yourself great, but no one has become great in isolation.  Teammates, coaches, a spouse, friends and/or family have helped in some way to make you great.  

#4  Commitment 

As stated earlier, it is not going to be easy to become great.  You must be willing to put forth much time and effort.  After all, if it were easy everyone would do it.  Continually strive to become better and better at what you are doing and learn as you proceed.  

#5  Learning 

You must find out what works for you and what does not.  If you strive to learn as much as you can every day, it is impossible not to become better.  And if you become better and better each day, you will eventually become great.  

#6  Decision-Making 

To become great, you must make great decisions.   However, all of your decisions will not be great.  Thus, you must have the foresight to know when you have made a bad decision and change it as soon as possible.  The main point is to think before you act.  

#7  Preparation 

Preparation is doing all the little things that separate becoming good from becoming great.  This includes some of the characteristics listed earlier such as learning and commitment.  Without preparing yourself to become great, you are destined to remain average.  

#8  Respect

To become great, you often have to work with, through or around others who are a part of your path to becoming great.  In doing so, you must respect their rights and treat them as you would want to be treated.  You must also respect yourself and stand up for your rights when that time arises.  If you and someone else are both going after the same dream, and if you believe there can only be one winner, enjoy the challenge the opposition brings.  Respect your opponents, but do not fear them. 

#9  Risk 

At some point in your journey to become great, you will face risk.  When this occurs, do not back down.  Do not take a stupid risk or take a risk every time.  But if you never take a risk, you will always wonder "what if", and this is a very frustrating way to go through life.  If you truly believe that you are the maker of your own fortune, then taking a calculated risk is the only possible solution.  


While these points are only a sample "recipe for greatness," they should serve as a solid basis for formulating your own recipe.  It will take much time and dedication for you to complete your own, but it will be a worthwhile experience.  It will not only help you learn more about yourself and your beliefs, it will provide concrete evidence to serve as a guide for your colleagues and team mates.  Good luck in your quest for greatness!