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At the end of this article are links to other articles on how to stay motivated.

Dan Richards

An optimistic outlook is the most important trait advisors can bring to the job. Overcoming a negative mindset is the necessary first step that makes everything else we do possible.   

Right now, we need to put explicit strategies in place to stay motivated – for most of us, motivation doesn’t happen unless we make it happen.

New research provides ways to keep an optimistic frame of mind.

Dave Kahle, principal with Daco Corporation, has written about the work of Dr. Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania, who ten years ago authored a book called Learned Optimism: How to change your mind and your life. Seligman’s research showed that we are not born as optimists. Instead, we can develop skills to maintaining a positive point of view, even in the face of difficult circumstances.

This article is adapted from the one by Kahle, with his permission. (You can learn more about his sales training and sales development consulting here.)

Seligman began his career as a research psychologist by studying helplessness in dogs.  In an early experiment, he put dogs into a cage from which they could not escape and subjected them to mild shocks.  After some effort to get out, the dogs would give up trying and lay down.  Later, he put them into a cage from which they could easily escape and subjected them to the same mild shocks.  The dogs would just lie down and give up - they did not attempt to remove themselves from the irritant.  They had learned helplessness and hopelessness.

In subsequent experiments, Seligman found that human beings behaved in much the same way.  Put into a room and subjected to irritating noises from which they could not escape, they soon gave up.  When put into a room with a mechanism that would turn off the noise, many didn't try to remove the irritant. Like the dogs, they had learned helplessness and hopelessness.

Seligman formulated a thesis he called "learned optimism."  His conclusion was that each of us learns to have either a pessimistic or an optimistic outlook. The good news is that this outlook is not set in stone – it can be changed.