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The power of positivity: Being a unicorn of change

May 28th, 2024 by

Helen Webber – Client & Operations Director

At Future Positive we’re lucky enough to work with a plethora of people who are not just successful in their field of business, but who are also pioneering change throughout the world. From groundbreaking innovations in renewable energy to revolutionary healthcare solutions, it’s hard not to be in awe of these talented few. Recently, when sitting through a series of meetings with our clients and having my socks knocked off, I’ve noticed that these ‘unicorns of change’ (sorry, but I do love a unicorn) all have a shared ethos rooted in two fundamental traits. So let me try to shed some light on their magic… 

Believing in better 

Believing in better is more than just a mindset; it’s a foundational principle that underpins progress and innovation – before solutions to any challenge can be found, there must first be a belief in the possibility of resolution. In fact, a survey based on climate change messaging found that receiving negative messaging around climate change impact (or doomerism) was likely to result in the highest level of sharing that information with others, but the lowest level of positive action or support for climate change policies, whereas optimistic messages were much more likely to result in activity (Packer & Van Bavel, 2024). After all, if we don’t truly believe we can do anything about it what’s even the point in trying? 

Out of the two traits this a much more common phenomenon, although what often makes the difference is the ability to keep this mindset consistently and not let it get trampled down, even in the face of what some of us may perceive as daunting opposition. Resilience is a tricky thing and requires a level of personal confidence that is increasingly rare in a world of constant uncertainty. 

But belief is only the start… you need to get your hands (or hooves) dirty 

There are a multitude of people that believe that things can be better, what really sets these talented few apart is that they feel the imperative to take action. And I don’t mean action in the sense of trying to get other people to fix their problems. This fearsome bunch takes real action. Developing new technologies, challenging embedded and outdated practices, working with governments on funding and policy. It’s not about lip service but making a measurable and meaningful difference. This is where the magic happens, and it takes a level of courage, determination, and a willingness to confront challenges head-on. 

The science backs it up 

One possible reason that this group excel so much in taking action, is that having a positive attitude has been shown to actually improve our ability to tackle complex challenges. Studies have shown that positive thinking can enhance problem-solving abilities, enabling individuals to approach challenges with increased levels of creativity and resourcefulness (Chen et al, 2018). How’s that for a magic power? 

And that’s not all… 

If that’s not enough for you, optimism (defined as a positive belief about the future or the successful outcome of something) has even been linked to improved health outcomes and longevity. One study of over 159,000 participants over 26 years found that optimistic women lived on average 4.4 years longer than their pessimistic counterparts (Harvard Study, n.d.). An earlier study found that across both men and women optimism led to an increased life span of between 11-15%. That certainly seems like a good reason for positivity to me. 

If you need help finding your positive mindset, getting your hooves dirty (couldn’t help myself), or even just want to show-off about how you’re a unicorn of change, give me a shout. I’ll put my socks back on in preparation.

 

References: 

DOMINIC PACKER & JAY VAN BAVEL, 2024, How to talk about climate change and the problem with doomerism 

https://www.powerofusnewsletter.com/p/how-to-talk-about-climate-change 

Chen et al, 2018, Positive Attitude Toward Math Supports Early Academic Success: Behavioral Evidence and Neurocognitive Mechanisms. Retrieved from: 

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797617735528?journalCode=pssa 

Harvard Study. (n.d.). Optimism leads to longer life. Retrieved from: 

https://agewellct.org/whats-new/research-reports/harvard-study-optimism-leads-to-longer-life/#:~:text=The%20Harvard%20Study&text=Researchers%20found%20that%20the%20most,beyond%2085%20years%20of%20age