The Resource of Optimism, with Dr. Sandra Folk

Just the other day I had the pleasure of talking with Dr. Sandra Folk, president and founder of The Language Lab, on the subject of optimism. Sandra is a fascinating woman who is an active public speaker and business woman, as well as an educator. So with her level of accomplishments, I thought it would be fascinating to learn what resources or strategies she draws upon to stay positive about the future.

The Language Lab, a business created by Sandra, draws upon her experience as an award-winning university lecturer, an educational consultant, writer, and innovator in online learning. Being a leader in the field of communication, Sandra has been asked to give many talks and appear on television.  Asking her about her resources and strategies, she shared an interesting twist on optimism.

What was it? Well, bottom line – prepare, prepare, prepare, and even if disaster strikes, you will be ready.

Here’s a story of Sandra’s resource-built optimism in practice. Essentially, before giving a talk she will prepare herself excessively. She plans out her ideas and then she revises the entire thing.

“I sit down, I do the research, I make my notes and I go back and check, check, check,” says Sandra during our phone interview.

To manage the risk, she over-prepares.

So that is exactly what Sandra did with a certain talk she gave. She created the talk on her laptop, prepared like crazy, went in, gave the talk and it was a success. Then about a month later, she had an opportunity to go and give the same talk again. This time she decided not to bring her laptop along. Instead, Sandra went to the talk with her memory stick and tried to make it work – except, Murphy’s Law in action, it wouldn’t bring up the presentation. Her slot to speak was literally in minutes, and she had no presentation.

Where does the optimism go in that moment of crisis?

“I was stuck,” remembers Sandra. But in that moment she knew that, “I’m going to make it work, I just know it.”

She took a moment aside for herself and focused on her breathing – a moment to disconnect from the flux and instead become mindful in her breath.

Even for a seasoned speaker, that flux of panic can happen. But she took the time to regroup. As her personal saying goes, sometimes you “just allow things to unfold.”

And in those moments of recollection, she decided that even without her slides for guidance she would be able to manage the talk, which is exactly what Sandra did – she went up on that stage and nailed it. Because she prepared and prepared and prepared, and because she took time to become mindful not of the chaos, but of her breath – Sandra was able to stay optimistic even in a mini crisis. Sometimes we need to look for the pauses in life, and that’s exactly what she did.

Prepare as best you can, and then even when nervous take time to re-centre.

Dr. Sandra Folk has even more resources on happiness and optimism in her Language Lab Newsletter. If you’d like to read her great collection of articles and ideas, you can access that by clicking right here.

cararesourcesAnd of course we’re going to reach into our Sister Leadership Tool Box and share with you this exercise on perspective, which can be a great resource for building your happiness and optimism. Ever wonder what it’s like to be a fly on the wall? Click through here to access the PDF entitled “NLP’s perceptual positions exercise: increase your optimism and happiness”, and find out for yourself in this creative bit of perspective challenging.

Plus, for another little piece from the tool box, and on the subject of language, here’s a way to share your thoughts on a subject without taking away from another. Say you were in a presentation giving feedback to the presenter and you really enjoyed the talk. There was, however, one little niggle you feel important to point out. If you begin your commentary by saying “Great talk, but I think I should sit closer to hear you next time”  the but in that sentence basically negates the compliment that came before hand. So when giving commentary, choose a softer word like “Great talk, however I think next time I’ll sit close to hear you better.”

It’s a small difference with a big impact. Give it a try and see how that goes!

Till next time,


Camille Boivin is founder of Sister Leadership, certified in EQi 2.0 and EQ360, a master practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), has been coaching high-level women and men for over six years, and is now opening her expertise to those emerging in business. Camille pulls her blog topics from her unique coaching approach that combines her training as a EQi 2.0 and EQ360 certified facilitator with the dig-deeper tools of NLP.

Get in touch here if you’d like to talk with Cam about group or one-on-one coaching, and EQ assessments. With the miracle of Skype and telephones – distance is no issue!

  1. MC Lessard 7 years ago

    As a hard core optimist, I had never thought that optimism was easier because of preparation but I can definitely see this as a helpful perspective for those who must ‘work’ at being more optimistic in their day-to-day.

  2. Prepare, prepare , prepare and the last thing I do before I present is take a big breath and pray. They tell me that when you loose the excitement of presenting, you have lost it. Presenting is a Gift that we sometimes over look. Everyone cannot do what we do. Sometimes what I have prepared is not what I present. I always have an agenda as my security. But hardly ever follow it. My talks are inpirational talks about life. Something greater than myself gives the talk I just have to move my lips. Its magic I don’t know where it comes from but I never fall flat on my face.

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