Positive Psychology Part 1: Five Important Elements for Strong Leadership & Life


Most people want to better themselves in some way; whether that’s losing weight, progressing in their careers, letting go of anger, building relationships, or becoming a better leader.

Oftentimes, we set a goal for ourselves, perhaps at New Years, a birthday or a stretch goal at work. We decide we are going to go after something, and we are all in for a few days. Then life gets in the way and we drift away from our goals, even though we still very much want to achieve them.

Positive psychology brings focus and can keep you true to what you want in your life and your work. With a set daily practice in positivity, each day serves as a reminder of your goals and what regular steps you can take to reach them.

Executive Coaching and Positive Psychology

There are many aspects of positive psychology that can benefit everyone personally and professionally, although it can be challenging to make it a habit without guidance and accountability. A coach can help you select from a library of functional daily strategies and steps for your desired areas of growth and improvement, apply what works for your situation, set concrete goals, and take specific steps towards those goals.

For each client within The Dieckert Group, that might take a different form, whether that entails self-affirmation, working through fears, or learning forgiveness -- our individualized approach sets up each client for personal and professional success.

5 Key Elements of Positive Psychology

Historically, psychology was viewed as a practice of study and healing for people who were mentally unwell. The focus stayed on those who were unwell until fairly recently, when researchers such as Shawn Achor (author of The Happiness Advantage and Big Potential) realized that psychology could be so much more: it could benefit everyone, even those who were healthy, and lead to increased happiness and personal transformation.

At the Dieckert Group, we implement a variety of positive psychology elements to help leaders grow into their full potential and change their lives for the better. Five important elements in our coaching practice include unconditional positive regard, gratitude, shifting mindsets, freeing clients from fear, and establishing daily positive practices.

(1 ) Unconditional Positive Regard

One of the most important things that we do as coaches is use unconditional positive regard. This practice involves offering absolute support of a person’s ideas. Unconditional positive regard at work and otherwise consistently produces better results than mixed feedback or critical feedback.

When a client asks us, “Is my goal possible?” or “Can I do this?” our answer is always “Absolutely.” This helps set an uplifting tone and builds a belief system that you can take control of your own life and reach your goals.

(2) Gratitude

Gratitude is the healing tool we have for all the negative psychology symptoms and problems in our lives. Using a daily gratitude practice allows you to regain perspective on your life and prevents you from getting hyper-focused on the negative.

Imagine that you are walking your dog, and he poops. You bend down to pick up the poop, and in that moment, your whole world is poop. If you just stay there, that’s all you will ever see. But if you step back and look around, you realize your world is so much more than that.

Actively and regularly practicing gratitude leads to appreciation for all the good that is in your life, even for the smallest of things, and keeps you from only seeing what is bad or challenging.

(3) Adjusting Your Mindset

Maintaining a fixed mindset, or believing that you cannot change, holds people back from being who they want to become. As coaches, we work with you to shift focus from what you believe is keeping you from reaching your goals, and instead focus on where you want to be and then figure out how to get there together.

People often anchor who they are based on who they were in the past. With positive psychology, we set a vision of who they could be, independent of their past.

For most people, the subconscious is an anchor that holds them back. When they let go of the past and shift into a growth mindset, their possibilities are endless. Our coaches teach practices that encourage clients to cut away the bonds of the past and move towards their desired vision for the future.

(4) Freedom From Fear

When we speak with people who want to change their lives, we almost unanimously find that their own perceptions of who they are is the main thing holding them back. This stems from fear—fear of somebody realizing that they aren’t really what they present themselves as, fear of change or trying something new, or fear of failure.

If you are constantly focused on avoiding failure, you aren’t going to achieve much in life. On the other hand, if you imagine what is possible and take bold steps in that direction, you might falter, you might fail, you might not reach your goal -- but as long as you are moving in a positive direction you will see radical change in your life.

As coaches, we help find a way for clients to let go of those fears, realize that they are perpetuating their own bad outcomes, and focus instead on the growth and achievement that is possible.

(5) Daily Practices

We ask our clients to imagine who they would want to be in their lives if they couldn’t fail… in all aspects of life, from love and relationships, to health and wellbeing, to professional life.

Once we create that vision, we establish a daily practice to remind them of who they want to be. Then we ask them, “What is the biggest thing I can do to move towards that vision?” and have them put it on the calendar. Each day they take a bold step towards their vision.

A bold step might be big, such as asking for funding for your startup, but it might be simple and small.

Let’s say for example that your goal is to learn how to play the guitar. Your first step might be to buy a guitar. After that you might research lessons or watch how-to videos online. Then you might choose three or four songs that you would like to learn -- your bold steps layer on top of each other to carry you steadily towards your ultimate vision.

Positive Psychology Coaching in the Executive World

Executives often come to us, frustrated with their current situation. Their aspirations for their company are no longer being met. Stuck, alone, and isolated, they bottle up the frustration.

As we work with them, we typically discover that the ideas and tendencies that served them well and contributed to their success previously, or for entrepreneurs when they formed the company, are now holding them back. Our executive coaching entails focusing on those tendencies and the way that their roles have changed over time.

In almost every case, we discover that fear is the root cause of the problem. Clients’ own perceptions and fears prevent them from growing and changing in the way their company needs.

We take a look at the effects of their actions on their organization or team, then attack and change the undesirable behaviors. We also work on socializing the change, collecting feedback from other people involved in the workplace.

For a professional, at the end of coaching, you don’t have to wonder if things are better. Your numbers and the feedback from peers provide the proof that you are changing, becoming the person you want to be, and bettering yourself and your business.

A major focus of our time with executives is about plasticity and curiosity. We encourage our clients to become introspective about the way they define themselves, and work towards making those perceptions as curious and flexible as possible.

Giving executive clients the freedom to try and experiment, to be open and curious, and to be willing to laugh at themselves, opens up their possibilities. Usually within 2-3 months, we solve the problem and the desired outcomes materialize.

Changing the Perception

All people can benefit by implementing positive psychology elements in their daily lives. Through gratitude, belief, and introspection, you can grow and change into the person and the leader you truly want to be.

You are only limited by your own perception. Taking bold steps towards your personal and professional vision will change your life in the best ways. When you direct your energy towards a goal, you can do whatever you want.

Overwhelmed? Hesitant? Don’t know where to begin? You don’t have to do it alone. Take your first bold step towards transforming your life today by scheduling your free strategy session with a Dieckert Group coach. Together, we will make your vision a reality.

Heath Dieckert