In this blog, I speak with business advisor and mentor Olwen Dawe about positivity. Based in the West of Ireland, Olwen works with SME’s, enterprise and economic development agencies and projects as a business advisor, project manager and mentor. She is also an active blogger, commentator and writer. Olwen is an advocate of female entrepreneurship and has held several roles with Network Ireland; she is currently Secretary and Vice President Designate of Network Ireland.
I first met Olwen in August 2012, when I met with her for a business mentoring session. She came across as very focused, passionate and positive. As I get to know Olwen, I see how true my first impressions were.
Here, we find out how she stays positive and what her top positivity tip is.
Do you consider yourself a positive person?
Yes – I would. Like everyone I guess I have my ‘moments’ but generally I do try to find the ‘silver lining’ in every situation.
What does having a positive attitude mean to you?
Like I said – I think it’s about taking each situation as it presents itself to you and making the best out of it. Life [and business] can throw curve-balls in your direction and adopting the right attitude in how you deal with them makes a big difference and ensure you maintain a positive outlook.
How do you cultivate a positive attitude?
It’s all about how you deal with life’s challenges and ensuring you keep positive people around you! For me, that’s critical in ensuring a positive outlook.
How do you overcome the pull of negativity and prevent yourself from getting dragged down by it?
I don’t tune into it! I am an avid follower of current affairs and certainly, there are some negative realities to the world we live in, but it’s up to us, individually to manage how much interaction we have with the ‘current climate’. Understanding and appreciating the realities of “now” is one thing; allowing it to dominate your day-to-day and impact your life in an intense way, is dangerous and certainly can diminish the chances of you maintaining a positive outlook.
Do you consider values important, and what are your values?
Absolutely. Values determine how you behave in business, in life – and how you interact with others. High-integrity, professionalism, consideration for others, the long-term impacts of decisions and remaining ethical at all times… some of my values! I consider myself very focused on these values – and respecting others’ are hugely important too. Inevitably, there are times where events or other unforeseen issues can impact on your values or how you behave – so being able to bounce-back and recover from these scenarios is another aspect of your value system.
What is the most difficult thing you have ever done?
In many ways – starting up my own business was very difficult. Mainly because I was [like many other female entrepreneurs] a bit risk-averse… but I was surrounded by a great network of supporters who buoyed me up and cheer-lead me on the way.
What is the most positive story you have to tell?
I think a milestone for me was getting into year three of business. Times are tough, for sure, but I am a great believer in the possibility of change and positivity is a big element of that – believing and actioning change can be the difference between success and failure.
Who was the person who must influenced you, and how?
I’m constantly influenced and inspired by the great people I’m fortunate enough to know! My parents have influenced me hugely; they’re both very accomplished people and have pursued their personal goals successfully. Both have also made significant contributions to society, through their work, and I’m enormously proud of them. Their inspiration taught me never to compromise when it came to pursuing the things I believed in, and most importantly, to have confidence in my own ability.
What advice would you give 18-year old you?
Personally, I think something you discover when you’re older – is that life is a journey and experiences, good and bad – are part of it. A younger me would have been a bit dismayed and frustrated with how some things played out – however, looking back, everything happened for a reason. I’m driven and focused as a person but I also have a flexible attitude to change and expect that things always happens for a reason… though that reason sometimes isn’t clear at the time. I guess it’s a lesson learned – and maybe an eighteen year-old me would have been a bit more understanding and pragmatic, if I’d known that ‘lesson’ at the time!
What is your top positivity tip?
Tune out the buzz of negativity. Stay true to your values. Focus on your goals. Be in the now [as much as possible]… and remember: “Those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.”