Are you a realistic optimist?

Do you assume things will go well? Do you dare take sensible risk, believing in yourself whilst doing so? Do you keep being optimistic even when things go wrong and you have to try a new way out? Do you see plenty of opportunities around you?

And do you at the same time stop and think about the practicalities of it all? How long it will take? If you have the resources needed? Do you think about what’s going on in the market and how that might impact your plan? Do you stare reality in the face without fear or hesitation?

Then you’re a realistic optimist – and there is no better way to start the year.

Clever of you. You see, realistic optimism has the perfect balance of reality and optimism.

It’s the perfect marriage of a cool head and a sunny outlook.

Your realism forces you to assess all relevant facts and circumstances – and your optimism keeps you going forward towards the goal.

But at the same time, the optimism is the overarching driver. There’s a relentlessness in there that often increases the chances of good outcomes.

Optimism on its own can easily become a rosy-eyed dream and nothing more.

And optimists that try to convince someone else is often disregarded as someone who is having their head in the clouds.

Whereas realistic optimists can rally support through a more complete picture, of both practicalities and hope.

“Too often we jump to the conclusion that something is impossible simply because we cannot see the solution. No one knows enough to be a pessimist.”


And there is scientific evidence that realistic optimism is a competence that we can develop. The research also shows that optimists maintain a healthier lifestyle and live longer.

Think of the year that stretched out ahead of you. How will you use your realistic optimism as a way of achieving your goals? How can you get that balance right? How can you create a bright future?

Yes, to a realistic optimistic, the future is bright, because they are going to make sure it happens, not just dream about it.

Jan/Feb issue of IMPACT is here

Welcome to another year of IMPACT!

In this issue, we focus on how to get new inspiration and perspectives, why realistic optimism is key, the illusion of perfection and storytelling as a communication skill.

And there’s a story about us all being brand ambassadors, whether we think about it or not.

And the IMPACT HACK this time is all focused on generosity.

You can download it here and read it online here.

Enjoy, and thanks for reading.

Here’s to an impactful 2022!

Mandy & Elisabet

What place(s) inspired YOU?

While reflecting on our 10 years of writing recently, we mentioned the number of locations we had been in to write our three books.

To some degree the different locations came down to necessity as we lived in different countries while writing our first two books, but that’s certainly not the whole story. No, we also decided that we now and then needed to see and experience something different in order to continuously get a new perspective and new ideas for our writing.

One such example was deciding to go to Oxford while writing our first book, The Team Formula.

In the book, the team was having a team offsite in Oxford and to do the location justice, we decided we needed to write some of the story in situ. And it really worked. If we may say so ourselves, it added depth to the location descriptions that would have been hard to achieve from our usual writing setting. And it affected the characters outlooks too as we had to really put ourselves in their shoes while describing what they experienced while there.

Having enjoyed the inspiration of Oxford, and the new perspectives it provided, we have made a point of taking any and all opportunity to write while travelling together.

So we have now not just written in several locations in Sussex, London, Oxford and Stockholm – but also in San Francisco, Singapore, Charlotte and Houston – and in mid-air, on planes!

Here are some examples – inspiration hit while…

  • punting on the river Thames in Oxford
  • observing the sea lions from San Francisco’s Pier 39
  • consuming HUGE coffees at Starbucks in Charlotte, North Carolina
  • working on a keynote talk in the bar onboard a plane to Singapore
  • researching garden mazes at Hampton Court Palace outside London
  • being interviewed on Share Radio in London
  • working in Brighton
  • taking a boat trip in Stockholm

What all these examples remind us of is that when we stimulate our senses with new scenery, new sounds and even new scents, we feel differently; energised, determined, calm – or any other relevant feeling. And we get new perspectives, we notice new things, we break the monotony of day-to-day habits – and inspiration hits.

This can easily be recreated in day-to-day work too. Imagine that you are working from home and how simply going for a walk (not always the same route) or meeting up for lunch with colleague/friend can provide that opportunity for new brainwaves and aha moments. How valuable is that!

AND – and this is a crucial one – constant innovation is a top priority for all organisations, so all you can do to make creativity, idea creation and ongoing innovation a reality is not just a necessity but a clever success strategy!

You just never know exactly how and when inspiration will hit, but it does. And you can be the architect of that.

Yes, variety is the spice of life, and we never know which particular situation or location will provide the most inspiration or why. Sometimes we may be inspired just because we are open to it – there can be so many reasons. But the important thing to remember is that breaking away from patterns always gives new perspective and subsequently much welcome inspiration.

What place(s) have inspired you? And what did that inspiration do for you? Please feel free to share – we’d love to hear about your places of inspiration!

You can’t play a symphony on your own

Have you ever observed the conductor of a philharmonic orchestra and how they spend very little time facing the audience?

In fact, when you think about it you’ll recognise that they spend most of their time facing the orchestra, which is their team. They are spending their time guiding them to play beautifully, creatively and with great impact together.

And have you noticed how perfectly the musicians play together, seemingly unaware of each other, yet obviously acutely aware as they harmonise with each other through their various instruments and expressions, providing their own unique and crucial contribution.

And then once in awhile, the conductor faces the audience and shares what’s going on – what they are doing, what we can expect, what they will or have delivered. And we, the audience, feel seen and taken care of. All of this is an example of great teamwork and great leadership.

You can’t play a symphony on your own.

Take inspiration from the world of music. If you’re a leader, ask yourself this question: Am I focusing too much outside the team rather than giving the team the focus and guidance they really need to be able to deliver? Are you for example attending meetings all day, hence not having much time to spare for your team?

Am I spending enough time enabling my team to perform at their best? Am I removing barriers to success?

All leadership is of course a balance; you need to carefully balance all your stakeholders.

Do you get the balance right? Are there maybe stakeholders that you give more focus than they need or want? Are there stakeholders that need more focus?

Take inspiration from the world of music and reflect on how you spend your time as a leader. Orchestras are also a great reminder of how important all team members are. You can’t play a symphony on your own!

Taking stock of 2021

We are coming to the end of another year and this is the perfect time to take stock. To think about achievements, successes, challenges, insights and how you’ve grown and developed. Do you realise quite how much you have learnt, this year alone? If not, this is the perfect time and opportunity to do just that.

In fact, this is not just for the end of the year, we need to spend more time in reflection mode throughout the year as well. With busy lifestyles we tend to rush onto the next thing without really appreciating what and how we have achieved. Yet, that is just what we all need to do, while also focusing on our strengths and then celebrate those strengths too.

Maybe you have been practicing leadership journaling, which we wrote about in the last issue of IMPACT. If so, you can look back at those reflections and pay specific attention to insights and realisations.

Imagine snapshots of the year? Where were you? What did you do? Which would be the pictures that best described 2021?

If you haven’t yet captured your thoughts through the year or if you want to summarise the year, here are some reflection questions to help you get started:

  • What are you most proud of from 2021?
  • What did you achieve?
  • How did you use your leadership, your ability to positively influence others?
  • How did you help others? And what did that do for them?
  • How did you use your strengths? When and where? And what difference did that make?
  • What didn’t go to plan and what was good with that? (Yes, that’s a very important question because the toughest moments can lead to the greatest learnings and growth)
  • What new knowledge did you acquire?
  • What did you learn?
  • What surprised you?
  • How will you celebrate your insights and achievements?
  • How will you take your learnings from 2021 into 2022 and let them become levers for new meaningful contribution and success?

And finally – a little bonus question; Have you thought lately about how wise you are? Wisdom is being able to apply your knowledge and experience, bringing a unique contribution that no-one else has. What is yours? And how did you use it? Capture that too.

If you think about it, every day is a fresh, clean start – if we choose to look at it that way. It’s never too late or too early to act on our dreams, our aspirations, our interests, our passions. And knowing where you are right now, is a great place to start.

Learn from yesterday, from this year, take from it what you can; learning, insights, results – and move forward with curiosity and joy. Anything can happen – and often does. What do you want to happen? And how will you make it happen?

Yes, a fresh new year is around the corner, with new opportunities, new energy, new collaboration for sustainable success. It’s a great opportunity to take all your wisdom from this year into the next, using it as a stepping stone to impact in 2022.

Take a moment (or two!) to feel good. This is a perfect time of year to celebrate, so go ahead and enjoy the festive season coming up.

You deserve it!