15 Oct 2020

One Minute with Clare Desira | Positive thinking is boring

An image of and quote by Clare Desira

Known for the most refreshing take on mindset, resilience and productivity, Clare Desira builds audience connections quickly. Clare has worked across 40 countries with clients including Apple, IBM, Red Cross, Australia Post, Intrepid, QBE and Harcourts. With years of virtual delivery experience and her influential style, Clare has a rebooking rate of 91% and audiences rate the likelihood to use her tools at 9.1/10.


So your tagline is “positive thinking is boring”, but you talk about mindset and happiness- how does that work?

We can all relate to a time when we’ve been in the thick of the unknown or uncertainty and someone has told us to “keep our chin up” or “pull our socks up.” This advice isn’t very helpful and usually only inspires an eyeroll.

Yet we each have a negativity bias which can automatically dial us into the worst case scenario. And while you’re focusing your attention on the worst case scenario, you forget the bigger picture and miss the things that are in front of you.

So forget both positive and negative thinking- I believe in helpful, encouraging and productive thinking at every chance. This focus helps us see things differently and problem-solve. It interrupts us when we’re spinning our wheels, procrastinating and overthinking things outside our control.

This type of thinking harnesses neuroscience to get better results during any change.

You talk to CEOs on your #1 charting podcast “Leading Generous Teams” about how they manage their resilience and mindset, especially during change. What trends are you seeing?

Two trends we’re seeing in leaders with an edge are:

Showing vulnerability themselves rather than feeling like they need to have it together all the time. It provides a quiet but powerful message for their teams and builds psychological safety so team members feel more accepted, respected and human.

Accessing mental health professionals as a part of their own leadership toolkit – proactively, not reactively. Future focussed leaders are also encouraging their teams to access Employee Assistance Program services proactively to navigate work challenges, relationships or build confidence. Being encouraged to talk to a non-biased professional not only when you’re having a crisis, but even when things are going well can be a secret weapon to performance, engagement and joy at work.
When leaders and teams proactively access mindset, resilience and mental health services, they tell us they’re able to see opportunities amidst complexity, help solve problems that haven’t been solved before and take their communication to the next level.

As a CEO and a speaker, you get up on stage to encourage others to build their resilience and mindset, what are your top three ‘go to’ strategies to keep you performing?

I focus on reactive (in the moment) and proactive tools that harness neuroscience to train my brain every day. I could talk about these all day but here are just three examples:

Daily belief/mindset work – This is not woo woo, this is about neuroscience. Your brain reaches for your most practiced thoughts, especially on a shaky day. Each day I use mindset tools to strengthen my brain or mental fitness to fuel more confidence ahead of growth opportunities. For example, if I have a big opportunity coming up, instead of getting lost in nerves, I’ll take time each day to rewrite and practice thoughts that support the opportunity going well eg. “I’m ready for this.” It’s a far more strategic and enjoyable way to spend the time, than the exhausting feeling that sustained nervous energy can bring.

Daily list – I write a top five (gratitude) list each day. I not only have a collection of over 10,000 positive memories, but a habit like this trains your brain to expect good in yourself, other people and the world. You’ve heard the saying ‘bad things come in threes’. I can guarantee that’s true as we’ve trained our brain to see three bad things amongst millions of pieces of information. Let’s flip that idea on its head. At work, this habit leverages neuroscience to stress less, focus more and get better results during any change. As a bonus, it’s also proven to be one of the most instrumental ways to increase your happiness.

Setting mindset goals – In addition to setting performance goals, I set mindset goals that focus on how I want to show up and lead each day, eg. leading with confidence and focus. I then deliberately take actions each day to bring more of those feelings into my leadership and life. When was the last time you’ve thought about how you want to feel when you lead? And what can you do more and less of today to lead that way? Your ideas should be practical enough that you can schedule them in your calendar.

Learn more about Clare Desira here.

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