Simple Positive Affirmations for Work to Transform Your Team

by | Feb 9, 2017 | approachable leadership

Are you a Gen-Xer or a Millennial?

I’ve got a sure-fire way to tell: what do you think of Stuart Smalley? My Gen-X readers either laughed out loud or rolled their eyes (or both). My Millennials scratched their heads. (Oh, who’s kidding who, my Millennial readers hit the Google, watched YouTube videos of his best positive affirmations for work, and then wondered out loud why he looks so much like a U.S. Senator).

I’ve been talking about positive affirmations for work a lot more than usual the last few weeks. That’s because I’ve had the pleasure of teaching our Learn and Lead Huddle on Execution Habits to two groups of SHRM leaders.

What do positive affirmations have to do with good execution habits?

A lot. The last thing we work on during that Huddle is a daily journal process I recommend. The journal process (what we call an Action + Leadership Journal) is part follow-up and follow-through system, part note-taking process, and part journal.

Each day we ask learners to start a new page and take a couple of minutes to focus on one thought or habit for that day (these change each week). Then they write down three things they are grateful for in their life. Why do that? Because a grateful person can focus and execute a LOT better than one who isn’t. It also tricks your brain to look for positive things around you – that’s a great way to reinforce the Hero Assumption.

I’m speaking from my own personal experience. I can tell you when I fall off the wagon on my own journal (it happens) I am less productive. But this isn’t just my opinion. I recently ran across an old article from Eric Barker that reminded me that there is a lot of science that backs up the importance of positive affirmations for work.

The article, “How Five Post-it Notes Can Make You Happier, Confident and More Successful,” is full of great advice. While I use a journal instead of post-it notes, these habits are game-changers.

Here are the affirmations Barker recommends:

  1. One post-it to list three things you’re thankful for (this is on the top-left section of our journal page for each day). When we keep a record of the positive things in our life, we tend to feel better about our lives. We are HAPPIER.
  2. A post-it to make note of two accomplishments you’re proud of. I include things like this in my daily gratitudes but re-reading the article made me pull out my bio and jot down a to-do to update my profile on LinkedIn. Seeing this post-it every day makes you more CONFIDENT.
  3. One post-it to jot down something you’re looking forward to. In an interesting finding, one study concluded that “anticipation can actually be more pleasurable than getting the thing you’re anticipating.” This relates to what we teach leaders about The Progress Principle. Having something to look forward to makes us more OPTIMISTIC.
  4. A post-it for one memory that makes you feel good. Research shows that being nostalgic can add a feeling of meaning in your life (I wonder if watching Stuart Smalley affirmations on YouTube counts?) Reminiscing on good times makes our lives more MEANINGFUL.
  5. One post-it to write down the name of a person you admire. “When we stare at someone we want to become and we have a really clear idea of where we want to be, it unlocks a tremendous amount of energy.” This from Dan Coyle, author of The Talent Code. Increase your focus and your energy and you will be SUCCESSFUL.

How does this approach to positive affirmation for work make our team better?

When I think about qualities I want to have in my own team, I can’t imagine a crew that would be more successful than one that is happy, confident, optimistic, finds meaning in their life and work, and feels successful. Folks who feel this way are productive. They get along with coworkers. They speak up when they need to.

As a leader, you are your team’s biggest cheerleader. Never stop rooting for them. Root for their success at work and at home. You WANT the people who work for you to be happy, confident and successful.

Encourage these qualities and you will see less turnover. You will see more enthusiasm. And you will watch your team grow. And in turn your organization will grow.

Not sure where to start? Lead by example. Start a journal practice or put some post-it notes up on your monitor. When someone asks what you’re up to tell them.

What do you think? Could a journal or some post-it notes transform your team? Are you ready to give it a shot?


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