Leadership mindset expert Helen Macdonald says relying on positive thinking won’t get you anywhere as nothing happens without action
Do you think positive thinking can do wonders? You’re wrong! It takes more than that to create something.
Helen Macdonald is a mindset expert with a mission: to teach people optimism with a built-in imperative. She reveals that just being positive without doing anything to reach your goals is unrealistic wishful thinking that won’t lead to any progress.
‘Any direction is better than none.‘ Helen says it’s good to take a breather sometimes and evaluate your overall situation. But don’t be stationary.
‘Sometimes the best possible outcome is just one baby step.’ Take small steps towards any direction to advance. Pay attention to signals to determine whether you’ve chosen the right direction or not.
She emphasizes the essential importance of reality checks. Always know where you’re standing. Things won’t magically happen just thinking about them.
You have to take action to pursue your passion. It’s the only method to achieve something.
Are you ready to take action? Learn how to get things done. Remember to share it with your friends and spread the passion.
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Moustafa: Hello everyone and welcome back to Passion Sundays, the best way to end a week and start another! Our guest today is phenomenally passionate about mindsets and how positivity is not the answer. She’s got a better answer – Helen Macdonald. How are you?
Helen: I’m very well, Moustafa. Lovely to be here!
Moustafa: Thank you! I was really interested in the discussion that we were having before we started filming when you said positivity is not the answer. People are lost pursuing positivity but there is something more important than that.
Helen: Exactly! So I believe that we’ve been sold the wrong spectrum.
Helen: So people have sold that the answer to negativity is first to stay calm and then to get positive, think positively. And that doesn’t work because, as you and I know, regardless of how passionate you are about something, regardless of how positively you are thinking, nothing happens without action.
Helen: So the difference between thinking positive and what I teach people about, which is approaching things with optimism is that optimism has a built-in action imperative. So positive thinking as I sit on the couch and I think really positively and really passionately about what I want, the red Ferrari is never going to come in the driveway. But with optimism, the spectrum is that you can still have a bad day, though I’m a professional optimist I still have bad days, and in the middle section is reality. So reality check. What’s really going on? What can I do? What can’t I do? What’s possible? And then optimize your outcome by choosing, opting for the thing that’s going to get you the best possible result.
Moustafa: I like the optimism and optimizing!
Helen: Yeah! Yeah! All of the words connecting to it are all action-oriented.
Moustafa: You got to opt in. You got to opt in.
Helen: To make a choice, exactly!
Moustafa: Well, that’s beautiful and I love how you tapped into the point that things are not working. So how do you find that passion when things are not actually working for you, which usually on a passion journey more times things don’t work than they do work.
Helen: Yeah, absolutely. So there are two paths for me. One: it’s really useful to have some helium balloons in your life. So optimists have helium balloons and those helium balloons might be people who help lift you up, they might be activities that make you feel better, that bring you out of that tough time. Or they might be meditational or going to the movies or a book, a sort of a talisman if you like. That’s my go-to place when I’ve lost my passion. That’s my go-to place to kinda get myself stilled and then a reality check to get the pulse. How’s everything going? And then move to what’s possible. What’s the best possible outcome? And no matter how passionate you are about something, sometimes the best possible outcome is just one baby step. It doesn’t always have to be that the best possible outcome is ‘I’m gonna fix it all!’ so even passion requires sometimes some baby steps.
Moustafa: Some baby steps. So basically the solution to get up again is getting up again slowly.
Helen: Getting up slowly or as best you can.
Helen: And seriously, sometimes the best opportunity that comes is to say ‘Ok, I’m just going to take a breather’. Best thing I can do for myself right now is to stop.
Moustafa: You actually answered a very important question because my next question was… Sometimes you do your best and your best is not good enough. What would be the solution? You said it’s about resting and admitting that maybe things would not work now. But how would you differentiate if it’s time to rest or if it’s time to get going? Because that’s a dangerous line. People rest sometimes too much and they are resting because it’s not working and it gets twice as hard. Or, on the opposite – they keep pushing, pushing, pushing until they burn.
Moustafa: How do you differentiate that line?
Helen: I think for me the key is that when you are in momentum, any kind of momentum, whether it’s tiny baby steps or really pushing, the universe gives you feedback. So if you’re pursuing your passion and you’re getting lots of pushback, then maybe it’s time to either take a breather, take a rest, look at the map. Am I going in the right direction? Am I leaning against the right wall? If you’re taking baby steps and the universe seems to be opening up things for you, then maybe it’s time to speed it up. So look for the signals. Am I pushing too hard? Do I need to ease back and kinda take a look around? Or do I need to speed up?
Moustafa: So the question is not if you should keep going or not, it’s how fast are you going or not.
Helen: Aha. And also the universe will give you feedback whether you are traveling in the right direction. So sometimes we are determined that this is the direction, putting in enormous amounts of passion but we hit roadblocks. But if we just rise our head and kinda look around and go ‘Hang on, if I just take a small shift in direction, things will ease. Or if I just wait for a while, this huge roadblock will go on its own chord, then I could make my way again. So do those reality checks, get your head up and have a look around. What’s working? What’s not working? What do I need? What’s the next best step?
Moustafa: What if sometimes that next best step is still unclear? So you’re pushing, you don’t know if you should push, you keep getting knocked out and you don’t know which way is up. What do you do in those situations?
Helen: So one of my principles is: Any direction is better than none. So if you’re absolutely stationary, the universe can’t give you. Resting is different. But if you’re stationary, the universe can’t give you feedback. If you take a tiny pushing step in one direction. Sometimes it’s a step backward and the universe goes ‘oh no, no, no, don’t go backward’. Any direction is better than none. So the slightest step in any direction – forward, backward, sideways, the universe will give it a go ‘yay, good job, keep going’ or ‘no, no, no, no, don’t do that’. So be aware and keep looking for the signs.
Moustafa: So dance with the universe in a way.
Helen: Dance with the universe. I like that, that’s very nice! And it is what passion is all about, right?
Moustafa: You know, dance with the universe on the music of your passion maybe.
Helen: Yes, that’s good!
Moustafa: Thank you very much! What an amazing way to conclude this interview!
Helen: Thank you very much, Moustafa!
Moustafa and Helen: Passion!
Moustafa: What do you think? I hope you found this as useful and as passionate as I did. If so, leave your comments on the blog below and do share it with your friends. And if you’d like more tools, tips, techniques and exclusive interviews that I only share on my website, go to Moustafa.com. And until next episode – live passionately!