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  • Anneli Knight
    Smarter Writer

    Anneli Knight is a journalist, writer and academic with a background in law and finance. She lives in Byron Bay

    Anneli Knight
    Smarter Writer

    Anneli Knight is a journalist, writer and academic with a background in law and finance. She lives in Byron Bay

    History is littered with successful individuals who came from backgrounds of hardship. Adversity comes in many guises, but one common thread is that we should all search out a positive from a negative.

    Josie Thomson was 24 years old working for a multinational corporation in Melbourne with a part-time job as an aerobics instructor when she found out she had a malignant tumour in her thyroid gland.

    Speaking at the Mind & Its Potential conference in Sydney on October 27-28, Josie told the audience that after surviving her cancer treatment, she moved cities, recovered well, and eventually married and had two children. However, she suddenly found herself a single parent, and not long after was told she had a brain tumour, requiring an operation and six months of rehabilitation.

    Man standing on cliff with arms upraised
    Optimists ... make considerably more money.

    - Martyn Newman, Psychologist

    Such is life

    After surviving such a series of experiences, Josie learned the art of bouncing back, and made a choice to live life with zest and strength. She is now a neuroleadership coach and resilience and change expert, passionate about teaching others to do the same. She was also a state finalist in the 2005 Telstra Business Women’s Awards. The tips for resilience that Josie shared at the conference is to accept that we can’t change anything in our history, but we can use it as a platform for growth, and that we all have a choice to decide whether something that happens to us is a blessing or a curse.

    Applying the theory of resilience to leadership, psychologist Martyn Newman addressed Mind & Its Potential delegates about the qualities that shape a successful leader. In his book, Emotional Capitalists, Martyn says resilience is the key to success. “Optimism is perhaps the most important quality you can develop to achieve greater success as a leader,” says Martyn. “Not just the ‘glass half-full’ kind of optimism, but optimism as a strategy – a way of dealing with difficulties and sensing opportunities.”

    “An overwhelming body of research demonstrates that optimists perform better at work, regularly outperform the predictions of aptitude tests, have greater resistance to colds and other illnesses, and they recover faster from illness and injury. Optimists also make considerably more money.”

    Martyn says optimistic leaders are characterised by three attitudes: 

    Benefits: Optimists look for the benefit of every situation, especially when they experience setbacks.
    Lessons: Optimists seek the valuable lesson in every problem or difficulty.
    Achievements: Optimistic leaders focus on the task to be accomplished, rather than on negative emotions such as disappointment or fear.

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