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Will Brexit turn us into a nation of negative thinking, fixed mind-set quitters?

Will Brexit turn us into a nation of negative thinking, fixed mind-set quitters?

First we quit the EU, our PM then steps down, over half the Labour shadow cabinet resigns and Roy Hodgsen, reporting he lost faith in the England team and they had given up on themselves.

Since the referendum there has been an onslaught of negativity and fixed mind-set from every angle.  Whether you voted in or out, it’s paramount that individuals and organisations must now look to the future on how to work together to look for potential and opportunity in the situation we have.  Rather than looking at won’t work, we must look at what can work.  Growth mind-set is all about acknowledging there are opportunities to learn, there might be unknowns but these can be worked through and we can adapt.  Surely these are more positive messages.  In these times of such uncertainty resilience and growth mind-set thinking is key in business, education and leadership.  Imagine what our world would be like if the great inventor Edison had given up after a few failures. His inspiring story forces us to look at our own lives and the resilience we need to overcome new challenges.

The Importance of Resilience

Resilience (or resiliency) is our ability to adapt and bounce back when things don't go as planned. Resilient people don't wallow or dwell on failures; they acknowledge the situation, learn from their mistakes, and then move forward.  You can help yourself and your teams be more resilient by:

Reframe information

Resilient people view things differently.  For example, a difficulty might be reframed as a challenge, rather than a paralyzing event. How we view the world and our beliefs around it impact on how we feel.  Changing that view is paramount for positive mind-set and action.

Mistakes are Good

Failures and mistakes should be viewed as lessons to be learned from, and as opportunities for growth. Rather than viewing them as negative reflections on self-worth and ability.

Take action

Resilient people create goals and take positive action, they don’t sit around mourning over what went wrong they think about and set new goals with positive actions.  They don’t restrict this to their work – they create positive actions around relationships, their friendships and causes they care about.

Personal Control and influence – Resilient people spend their time and energy focusing on situations and events that they have influence and control over. Because they recognise efforts can have the most impact on things they can influence. Those who spend time worrying about uncontrollable events can often feel lost, helpless, and powerless to take action.

Another leading psychologist, Martin Seligman, says the way that we explain setbacks to ourselves is also important. (He talks in terms of optimism and pessimism rather than resilience, however, the effect is essentially the same.) This "explanatory style" is made up of three main elements:


People who are optimistic (and therefore have more resilience) see the effects of bad events as temporary rather than permanent. For instance, they might say "My boss didn't like the work I did on that project" rather than "My boss never likes my work."


Resilient people don't let setbacks or bad events affect other unrelated areas of their lives. For instance, they would say "I'm not very good at this" rather than "I'm no good at anything."


People who have resilience don't blame themselves when bad events occur. Instead, they see other people, or the circumstances, as the cause. For instance, they might say "I didn't get the support I needed to finish that project successfully," rather than "I messed that project up because I can't do my job."

How we view adversity and stress strongly affects how we succeed, and this is one of the most important reasons that having a resilient mind-set is so important.

The fact is that we're going to get things wrong from time to time and things don’t always go the way we want them to: it's an inevitable part of living that we make mistakes and occasionally fall flat on our faces. As Winston Churchill said “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Our FLIP it for resilient reams is a great way to help your team be more resilient and learn cognitive tools to help them get through uncertainty and change in a positive and flexible way

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Are organisations and companies just paying lip service?
Join some of the most interesting and respected voices in positive psychology for our Our Big Chat about…Thinking outside the tick box, inaugural webinar. Our two and half hour interactive event will look at the best mental health strategies for organisations, identifying what works and what doesn’t.

Dave McPartlin:

Dave is the Headteacher of Flakefleet Primary School.
Creating the right environment for people and communities to flourish

Sunita Hirani

Sunita is one of the BBC’s key equality, diversity and inclusivity experts.
Why inclusion is essential for mental wellbeing

Professor Sir Cary Cooper

Cary is one the world’s most influential voices in occupational health and wellbeing.
Enhancing Mental Wellbeing at Work. Evidence based strategies for creating a wellbeing culture at work.

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