Your Route to the Top: Holding on to hope

Find your focus. Jane Tomlinson was brimming with hope, despite being given only six months to live.

Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Seven years later, she'd completed some of the world's most gruelling challenges for charity, saying her job as a mum had fuelled her fight. Find your reason to look forward.

Think yourself lucky. Psychologists Seligman and Schulman found in 1986 that insurance agents with an optimistic outlook sold 37% more insurance than the pessimists.

Reframe. The only thing that all successful people have in common is that they made mistakes (lots of them). See setbacks as an opportunity to learn.

Count your blessings. Positivist psychologists have found that hope is both influenced by circumstances and a trait that can be learned. Strengthen your natural disposition by regularly writing down the positive things that happen to you. Whether it's spending a relaxing evening with friends or persuading the board to take on your proposal, think through how your actions made these events possible.

Have faith. In his book Stumbling on Happiness (Harper-Perennial), Daniel Gilbert states: 'The fact that people overestimate the impact of almost every life event makes me a bit braver and a bit more relaxed, because I know that whatever I'm worrying about now probably won't matter as much as I think it will.' Take a risk - what's the worst that can happen?

Find the pearls. Without denying the magnitude of a situation, realise what you can control. While you can't stop a company merger, you can support your team through a smooth transition. Ask yourself: 'What can I hope for?'

Give hope to others. Transformational leaders use their influence to raise the mood of their team. Share concerns honestly, but articulate a compelling vision. Kierkegaard said: 'Hope is passion for what is possible.' Show that passion.

'The Mind Gym: Give me time' is published by Time Warner Books (£12.99). Contact the firm at

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