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Article: The Habit of Optimism: a Case Study by Hon. Prof. Mike Conway, Founder & CEO

27 March 2020

by Hon. Prof. Mike Conway, Founder & CEO

Last week I was writing an article about Optimism at a time when every part of the XVenture business came to a grinding halt. We had been building a new project focused on helping people improve their mindset, their communication and relationships with others in a fun interactive environment. Working with some great partners, we had undertaken significant testing, verifying and fine-tuning over several months. The response to the project was as positive as we had ever received. An exciting prospect. A World first concept which integrated the best of brain training from the success in elite sport, education and business and the experience of major national TV production. 

Our formal launch date was Monday 16th March. On that same day, the coronavirus kicked into another gear. The project was all put on hold. Our partners were no longer able to roll the program out and our client base would be in no position to participate. All understandable but from a small business point of view, the worst thing imaginable. We had invested significant time, energy and funds into the project and were obviously disappointed and wondered, what next?

Oh well. It gave us the time to turn attention to our major research program. Early indications suggest it will be a game-changer in team sporting codes, so a very exciting piece of work. No short-term gains for us but long- term prospects look very promising. Over in Western Australia at one of the key case study bases, we were busy completing work on the capture of key data. Half-way through, this was put on hold too. All public gatherings had been cancelled, as had all grassroots sport. We returned to HQ in NSW empty-handed. Not the easiest of weeks. However, unless we were living on a desert island, we all know that this is way outside our control. We are just one of many millions of groups affected around the Globe.

Our philosophy at XVenture is always the same. Whatever happens; whatever disappointment we face, and there have been many, how we respond will define us. In such situations, humans typically move into a fright, fight, flight, faint or freeze mode and our responses are often chaotic and rigid. It’s understandable. The fear of losing our livelihood, our home, our life can be real. Is real. However. If we can be calm, reflective, clear thinking and flexible, solutions emerge which turn a perceived negative future into a positive one.

Dr. Dan Siegel provides us with an excellent acronym for how we should behave in such times:

FACES

FLEXIBLE

ADAPTABLE

COHERENT

ENERGISED

STABLE

Here we are with one of those moments. What options has XVenture got now the business model has dramatically changed? How do we adapt to extreme conditions?  

Another Dalai Lama quote springs to mind:

 “To remain indifferent to the challenges we face is indefensible. If the goal is noble, whether or not it is realized within our lifetime is largely irrelevant. What we must do therefore is to strive and persevere and never give up.” 

Of course, it’s not as easy to do as it seems. I remember the stock market crash of ’87 and interest rates forcing me into huge debt in the late '80s. With a young family, it was tough. Hand to mouth times. However, we got through to tell the story and that experience helps for the future. 

For whatever reason I’ve been very fortunate in habitually having a positive spirit. “habitually” is the operative word. We’ve heard the famous saying: “half empty or half full.” It’s worth reflecting on this. Are we people who typically think that the worst will happen or the best? When we are in a habitat that we know and understand; where everything in our World is stable, we probably don’t specifically reflect on such matters. However, this may be a moment to do this. 

Our small team got together to share the situation. Within twenty-four hours we had shifted our whole focus to a brand-new project which we would launch in two weeks. It would deliver against several important aspects:

·     Connecting with people who are isolated

·     Bring people together to help encourage regular networking

·     Have a positive fun experience when there were few and far between

·     Learn and develop greater emotional agility and resilience skills in a time of need

·     Ensure accessibility

·     Provide hope for our friends and clients

·     Demonstrate that we can respond positively to such a situation 

To achieve this, many things were stacked against us. No concept, no clients, no location and no delivery or distribution solution. A burning platform too – no revenue and only costs being incurred with no end in sight to this situation. But what we had was an idea and a positive group of people who want to contribute to Society in this very difficult time by using skills and gifts in the best way they can.

In such times, it’s good to have a voice of reason. When we’re learning about self-isolation and social distancing, I can't think of anyone better than tuning in to how Nelson Mandela dealt with 27 years of it! He saw the experience of imprisonment as an opportunity for learning, education, reflection and renewal. “I never lose. I either win or learn.” In this time, I have been in contact with his friend and protector, Rory Steyn. I have mentioned Rory before. Five years by Mandela’s side, he learned much and passes this on with pride, passion and a warm heart. Despite the challenges South Africa has had over many years, Rory chooses to be positive about the future. These are the people I choose to be close to in such times. 

In our work with the Socceroos, Sydney FC and most recently with the staff and players at Western Sydney Wanderers, I spend most of my time helping the team build resilience to manage things that don’t go as planned and building a positive and optimistic mindset which focusses and tunes attention on the present and future rather than the sadness and disappointment of what’s happened.  Sport certainly needs this in abundance now that it’s all sitting on the sidelines. Those that succeed at the highest levels have understood this and make it their habit. They dust themselves down, respond to changing conditions and move forward.  That’s what we need to do. 

As I finish this short reflection, the XVenture team are all working together to roll out the first part of our new project. We’re doing this remotely of course! I did get a little concerned that my voice was struggling but I now know that’s not an illness but as a result of the extra strain, my voice is under with more conversations via webinars and conference calls. I’m actually communicating more rather than less which is interesting in itself. Incidentally, our dog seems to be loving the greater attention!

We are excited. We have already gained much from the experience. Learning new approaches to the situation, having a sense of achievement and a continued positive spirit which can help others during this time. 

To see the first thing we’ve created since social isolation, you can click on the link below. It’s a free e-book to read and share with your children providing the opportunity for a special moment together.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1OrfqIylFaBosDSp7NgCM6-q7cASyW92X/view

That's all for this week. I’m excited to enjoy some relax time and the prospect of next week when our new project is ready for launch. Wishing you all a safe and healthy weekend.

 

If you would like to discuss ways to help support you, you sports team/ athletes or your whole organisation around mental well being and engagement during this period, please feel free to reach out. The XVenture team has been working around the clock to develop new individual and team development solutions which can take place anywhere - in teams - but within the home.

Hon. Prof. Mike Conway (UOW) is the Founder and CEO of XVenture working with individuals and teams across elite sport, business and education. He is also the Emotional Agility and Mind Coach for the Australian National Soccer team.

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We are XVenture.

This web site is provided by Australian Institute of Leadership Pty. Ltd.

Your access to this website and your use of the services provided through it is subject to these legally binding terms and conditions. Please read them carefully.

Disclaimer of Warranty and Limitation of Liability


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You acknowledge that:

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You agree that you:

You are aware that it may be possible for a third party to obtain your username and password by un-authorised means via your computer. It is your responsibility to take steps to prevent this from occurring, by means such as regularly changing your password and installing security software on your computer.

Misuse of this website

You must not:

  1. Hack into this website or our computer systems.
    Hacking means malicious damage or interference and includes, without limitation, mail bombing, propagating viruses, worms or other types of malicious programs, deliberate attempts to overload a system, broadcast attacks or any other method designed to damage or interfere with the operation of a computer system or website;
  2. Use robots or any other automated system to take information or data from this website.

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You acknowledge and agree that the content (including without limitation the text, graphics, photographs, sound or other material presented on this website ("Content") is protected by copyright, trade mark, patents or other proprietary rights and laws. You are only permitted to use the Content as authorised by Australian Institute of Leadership Pty. Ltd.

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These terms and conditions are be governed by the laws in force in the State of New South Wales, Australia and each party hereto irrevocably submits to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Courts of that State.