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Simple truths for positive business people

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I've been listening to Gretchen Rubin for the last few months and I adore the way she blends hard science with personal commentary. Within her 'Happiness Project' Gretchin identifies her '12 Commandments' and with clarity explains how these simple rules help guide her life and business. I thought it was a brilliant idea, so here are the simple truths I've found about positive business people.

1. The days are long but the years are short - Many people in business fall into the trap of feeling overwhelmed and focus in on the daily tasks at hand. The trouble is, the years pass by regardless of where you focus, so taking time to make a master plan helps you to see the bigger picture and work towards it. 

2. Lean in when it gets uncomfortable - There are not many business people I know of who have had an easy path to success, in fact, I can't think of one. Those who are truly successful know that when things get difficult the fastest way forward is to lean in, to work harder and to find a way through. The people who avoid confrontations, failure and the mess that business can be, generally don't stick around for long. 
3. Always leave it better than you found it - Regardless of what context your thinking of, the same rule applies both in business and life. When you walk into a meeting make sure the people leave feeling valued and inspired, when you walk into a messy office, do what you can to tidy, improve or organise it. If you live this truth you'll go to bed every night knowing you've made the world a little better. 
4. Stop deliberating - Either make a decision, make a plan or get some advice. Positive business people know that time spent deliberating is time wasted (it also has a negative effect on both our willpower and self efficacy). I'm not talking about thinking through, I'm talking about worrying over things. Thinking and planning is brilliant, but you know when you get to the point where you should have made a decision. Positive people push through that, others... well they stay stuck in worry and inaction. I heard a beautiful sentiment on clutter recently "Clutter is simply decisions postponed."  
5. Other people matter - In fact, other people are the only way you'll every create the business you want. Give out gold stars regularly, praise and acknowledge your suppliers, staff and clients and take every opportunity you get to lift and elevate the people around you. When you start living this truth you'll draw in the most amazing people into your life and things will start clicking into place. 
6. Never put off till tomorrow what can be done today - My Dad instilled this value in me and yes it certainly keeps me busy, but I also feel like I make massive progress most days. If I walk past something that needs to be done rather than deliberating, I get it done (or add it to a system to get done.) Now, I know this is contentious, and for some of you (with over flowing in-boxes and a line at your office door) I appreciate this isn't achievable. But, what you will find is that the more you achieve today, the easier tomorrow is. Yes, it's a double edged sword, and the more you achieve, the more is expected of you. But fundamentally, once you tick it off your list, you feel great, your confidence grows and you get to move forward.  
7. Consciously create fun - Fun at work? Yes, positive people find ways to create fun and moments of engagement and joy. Why? - Oh, I could bang on about the science for ages, but essentially people who have fun and are playful at work create positive moments, that puts your brain into a super productive state, opens you up to new opportunities and helps you engage and connect with those around you. It's those times that your able to do your best work and find the flow. 
8. Simplify - Mostly, we overcomplicate things in business. I constantly ask myself, how can I make this more simple? It minimises distractions, reduces people involved, decreases costs and generally makes everything more efficient. The challenge is wading through the complexities to find the simplicity underneath. 
9. There is only this moment, and it too shall pass - This was my mantra when my kids were little and I've found it works in every walk of life to keep me grounded in the present moment. When business is going well, I try to remember, it won't always be this easy, and when business is at it's most challenging, I try to remember, it won't always be this tough. Either way, when I keep that perspectice it makes being in the moment easier.
10. Follow your passion - It's an old cliche but when you follow your heart and the things that light you up, the path forward becomes clearer and often things seem to magically click into place. (Not very businessey of me, but you know it's true.) When you're passionate about your business and the difference it makes in the world, the work pales into insignificance when compared to the impact you're creating.
11. Develop a growth mindset - Positive people have a minset that believes learning is more important than achieving and growing is more  important than winning. Look around your business and the people who are life long learners always stand out. They are sparking interesting conversations, open to new ideas and the first to take a chance in business. They know that failure is the birthplace of crativity and innovation. 
12. Invest in yourself - What you know will be the foundation of your business. Investing in your education and personal and professional development will always pay off and positive people are prepared to back themselves and invest in becoming better in their chosen field.  
So, there happens to be 12.... but I'm positive you can think of a few more that apply to your business. Hopefully it's sparked some ideas and inspired you to adopt a more positive way of doing business. If you have any thoughts, questions or additions to the list I'd love to hear them. 
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Nothing would give me more pleasure than telling you that after 11 years as a coach, and studying the ins and outs of happiness, that there’s a golden light at the end of the tunnel where you live happily ever after and life is a long string of joy, love bubbles and blissful moments. However, I don’t deal in bull... dust, I deal in positivity, and quite frankly, there is no pot of gold to find. (Sorry.)

What I have discovered, is that regardless of how positive you are, life still throws you challenges. No matter how mindful, engaged or compassionate you are, bad stuff still happens and weather you’re generally more optimistic or more pessimistic, when disaster strikes, it still sucks! The pain feels the same regardless of your disposition, it’s what comes next that separates us. I think most people believe that the optimist is like an endangered species on a protected list that is simply immune to disaster or negativity, not so my friends. The optimist is the guy working overtime to make sure that when disaster strikes it doesn’t’ take him (or those around him,) down with it.

I get a lot done. I manage to enjoy large parts of each day. I make time for my kids, husband, family and friends and I exercise religiously and take time to meditate each day. I’m not some sort of super hero or energiser bunny, and I’m certainly not perfect, I simply have really good habits that work.

Habits are essential to success. People with positive habits will consistently move towards their goals, while others with weak and inconsistent habits will progress much more slowly, if at all. Taking time to set up good habits will make life monumentally easier and help you become more resilient when things go pear shaped. Today I want to share with you some of my habits and hopefully inspire you to develop some of your own.

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For those of you that know me well, you'll recall that my kids have always struggled with separation anxiety. I like to tell myself it's because I'm a much better option than going to school, but in reality I suffered exactly the same debilitating level of anxiety as a child, each time I had to leave my Mum. 

The Happiness Pie - Have you got your share?

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Happiness pie 2The Happiness Pie is used to describe where our happiness comes from in comparison to the happiness of others. Sonja Lyubomirsky found 50% of our happiness is genetically set, this gives us a starting point in the game of happiness and a general predisposition. Initially when faced with the genetic component of happiness many people feel instantly hemmed in by their genes.

Fortunately, a new field of science called epigenetics gives us hope. Epigenetics indicates that although our genetic code is fixed, the way those genes are expressed is largely determined by the environmental factors within our bodies. Imagine planting the seed of a tropical tree fern in a hot, dry desert, it’s simply the wrong environment for it to grow. Genetics work in the same way.

Only 10% of our happiness is attributed to outside circumstances, which is often the things we work so hard to change, like our income, where we live, or if we get a distinction in an exam. Most people invest all their time in this area, working harder to earn more so they can be happy. In reality, it contributes very little to actual wellbeing and on average the effect is entirely gone after 12 months.

Laura at School 2017OK, So you may not have heard about Positive Education YET, but believe me, it's coming to a school near you! Positive Education is an offshoot of Positive Psychology (the study of well-being) and quite simply is the application of Positive Psychology into an educational setting. It's well researched and there's now an amazing amount of information and studies about how it can transform schools. Positively of course!

Yes, most schools do have a well-being program or two, some even have a PBL strategy (Positive Behavior for Learning), but where Positive Education is different is it places the well-being of both students and teachers at the centre of the school system rather than on the periphery. It's a critical shift that makes all the difference. "The fundamental goal of positive education is to promote flourishing or positive mental health within the school community." Norrish, 2013. 

Positive Leadership - A snapshot!

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Sean Cooper Laura CooperMy husband was recently accused of bullying…. By our six-year-old daughter. Laura came home from school telling me how she learned all about bullying at School. Later that evening when my husband, very respectfully I might add, asked her to put her pyjamas on for bed, she turned around, put her hands on her hips (with all the theatrics of an indignant six-year-old) and said “Stop bullying me Dad!” You can see by the picture how strained their relationship is. LOL. 

Generally, in our society, we focus on the problem not the solution. Teaching children about bullying gives them a vocabulary that expands their thoughts in that direction. Every three hours, one person in Australia chooses to end their own life, that’s approximately 8 people a day and is greater than our National road toll, tragically, in 2015 our suicide rate was close to three times that of our road toll.

primary school kidsIt became apparent after Laura’s first week in kindergarten last year that getting her to talk about her day at school was like pulling teeth! I’d expect a 14 year old boy to shrug and grunt when asked “So, how was your day?” but seeing my little 5 year old princess doing the same thing got me thinking. How can I communicate differently and start a conversation about her day? So, I came up with “The Good, The Bad and The Utterly Ridiculous.”

At some point after School each day I ask Laura to tell me about something Good that happened, something Bad that happened and something Utterly Ridiculous that happened in her day. It may be on the walk home from the bus stop, over dinner or just before bed, but she then has to genuinely think back on her day and reflect on what went well, what she found challenging and what was just totally random. (I always use the example of the teacher farting for the Utterly Ridiculous one.)

SkateboardingWell, It’s been over three weeks of Skateboarding every day and I’m happy to report that I’m definitely getting better. I can slow down, (which is pretty important) I can turn in figure 8’s and I’m starting to really enjoy cruising around the streets with the kids. In fact, today I’m grateful for the rain as my left calf is killing and it really needs a few days off!

There are a few things that I think are really cool about skateboarding and I wanted to share them with you because they are pretty applicable to business in general.

20170120 082815I’ve always admired kids that can skate board, particularly the ones that go to the skate park every day and practice. Determination and bravery become paramount to your improvement. Next time you see a skater think of all the time and energy they’ve invested in learning to skate, perhaps even admire their skill.

My daughter Laura (turning 6) and my son Dylan (4) are now both riding their bikes really well and I need to keep up. Dylan loves going to skate parks and I’ve noticed not only are they bigger kids really kind and patient with him, he’s learning some really positive life lessons too like falling over is part of the process and practice is the only thing that will help you improve.

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Over the last 10 years as a coach, I constantly think about how I can make the world at large a more positive place, but it has to be free, easy and accessible to everyone.

So... I've developed the kindness calendar as a simple way to promote kindness in schools, homes and workplaces. Stephanie Meades and myself formed the Kindness Crew and are on a mission to make kindness a priority in the lead up to Christmas.

The case of the Missing Mojo....

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MojoHopefully, it comes as no surprise to you that I sometimes loose my mojo, just like everyone else. Often people think I've got it all together and am constantly happy with a perfect life... Umm, sorry to shatter your illusion, but that's not the reality for us mere human beings! LOL. 

So, the last few weeks have been trying and over the weekend I said to bestie "I feel like I've just lost my mojo." It's been a few weeks now where I just feel like I've lost my motivation a little, I'm not overly fussed when the house descends into messy chaos and to be honest, I'd rather read a good book than change the world. 

The Business of Happiness

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happy at workIn today’s fast paced society it’s hard enough to be happy when we’re on holidays, let along being happy at work! There are so many demands on our time and more often than not we feel overwhelmed and stressed just thinking about trying to reach that elusive goal of happiness.

The good news is that happiness is no longer a pipe dream, it’s no longer a self help fad and with the field of positive psychology exploring new ways to help individuals and organisations to flourish every day, happiness is now more available than ever... and has the science to back it up.

The tripple bottom line

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yvon chouinardMost businesses are primarily driven by their bottom line; That is, how much profit was realised and what return will the shareholders receive. Business is changing, and to create a sustainable business model I believe that the bottom line has changed most of all.

The triple bottom line replaces traditional fiscal profitability and embraces three positive outcomes that all businesses should be aiming for; People, Planet and Profit. When a business shifts focus to embrace the triple bottom line the integrity of the organisation shifts up a gear and it becomes valuable in its own right.

Remembering Kokoda

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Annapurna Steps

In the year 2000 I was in the Army Reserves and an opportunity came up to go to PNG and walk the Kokoda trail. Me being me, I’d trained for months before we left, I’d hike up Sublime point from Austinmer to bulli tops with a 15kg pack, often running up and back twice. I know, it sounds crazy, but I was determined I was going to make the entire trail.

Three presenting tips to shift your mindset

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head game Jodie Cooper speaking with confidencePresenting is as much a head game as a skill set. Once you get your head in the right place everything shifts. Here are three simple tips to help you shift your mindset and take your presentations to a new level!

1. It’s not about you! – To be honest, the whole ‘confidence’ thing is a bit of a myth. When we focus on being confident we make the presenting experience about us and how we feel. Challenge yourself to get out of your own head and really focus on your audience and giving them everything you can.

South West CultureWhat lies at the root of Southwest Airlines Culture is the strong focus on relationships. The Southwest framework of positive relationships is; Shared goals, Shared knowledge and Mutual respect. This is named ‘relational coordination’ and is found to enhance both quality and efficiency in equal measures. In a hospital studied, relational coordination created: 31% reduction hospital stays, 22% higher patient quality of care, improved clinical outcomes.

Southwest has 10 practices for building high performance relationships:

Starting School... and I'm terrified!

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Benson and Laura sml

On Monday Laura has her first day at big school, and quiet honestly, I'm more nervous than she is! Yes, Yes, I know she's a smart kid, I know she'll make friends and learn lots, and obviously have a wonderful time, I'm just not sure I will!

Despite my somewhat calm and confident persona now, as a child I suffered with separation anxiety and had a pretty tough time fitting in at Primary School. (The fact that I cried every morning for the first 6 months possibly didn't help much! LOL) So now after 5 years of crying and tantrums at preschool drop off 3 days a week, I'm horrified that I'm going to have to put her through exactly the same thing I went through. So here's my plan to survive Monday: 

Random Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar

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Jodie Cooper and family 2015Raising children is certainly the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, and I’m only 5 years in! It’s consistently challenging, and every time I feel I’m learning and growing they seem to take another step forward and enter a whole new stage.

Within these notes you’ll find a positive way to parent. What I’ve noticed is that most of the time it will help me move both myself and my family in a positive direction, but trust me, it won’t work all the time. There will still be situations and issues with your kids that leave you walking to the letterbox in frustration, just to have a moment (and that’s possibly all you’ll get) of peace before returning to the demands of parenting.