Creative Workshop Exercises: Easy and Engaging Workshop Activities #19. Releasing the HERO within to achieve your goals

Impact:  Enhances awareness of and ability to use psychological capital through the generation, boosting and mindful application of hope, optimism, self-efficacy and resilience.

Materials Needed: Pack of Positran Positive Transformation Cards

Remember, should you decide to buy one or more packs of cards, you can get 10% off your first shop order with a newsletter subscription

Professional Use:  Coaching, Therapy, Personal Development, Team Development

You can download this guide here

Who is Releasing the HERO within for?

This exercise will help you work with your clients who are uncertain, lacking confidence or confused about how to approach or achieve their goals become more aware of the beliefs and emotional factors that are swirling around the particular goal under discussion. Which in turn will enable them to make better informed, more confident decisions.

How does it help with Achieving Goals?

This exercise helps people achieve their goals by externalising the internal dialogue around the goal, by using questions to stimulate new thinking, and by drawing on the power of psychological processes to boost motivation, aspiration and propensity to action. The exercise draws on both rational cognitive problem-solving processes, and psychological transformation aides such as visioning, imagination, emotional responses and motivation, and of course the creation of psychological capital.

Please Note: The cards used in the images below are my sample cards. The card packs themselves DO NOT have punch holes!


Separate the cards into five piles: the five question cards, and piles of mindfulness, hope, optimism, resilience and efficacy cards.


 How to run the exercise

 Work with your client or coachee to define the particular challenge they wish to work on. Let’s imagine it’s a career development conversation and they are considering applying for a promotion but are very uncertain about doing it.

 Take the question card for mindfulness, ask them the question at the top of the list on the back ‘Pick a card that in some way represents your actual position or situation.’

 To do this, direct them to pile of mindfulness cards, image side up.

Let’s imagine they pick this card


You can then ask them the second part of the first question ‘What do you see in this photo?’ Ask other questions, using the question card to help, to further explore the metaphors offered by the image. 

For example, I might choose to ask ‘What are you not noticing?’ We can imagine our coachee saying, ‘It’s interesting, I’m so focused on all the ‘washing’ in front of me that I haven’t really looked through the open door.’ Which might lead to a great conversation about their concern about ‘abandoning’ colleagues, or leaving jobs ‘half-done’ rather than seeing them through to the end. And also, about how they’ve been so focused on these feelings of abandoning others, they haven’t really thought about the opportunities offered by the promotional position. Both of these areas can be explored by further questioning.

When the exploration of the metaphor of the selected card seems finished, place that card image up on the table and move to pick up the next question card: Hope

Essentially you repeat the process: selection of an image from the appropriate card pile, exploration of image selection using the appropriate question card to help, placement of card at the conclusion of the conversation until you have created a pattern of cards like this, one for each of the five elements, as reflected in the pattern on the reverse of the cards.


 Finally, you can turn all the cards over to reveal the quotes on the back. These can then be explored for what they add to the conversation.


Note all the cards have quotes on the back, so another alternative is to place them all face up and to ask the coachee to select one or two that ‘speak’ to them, and to explain why.

This process should work to bolster or release their psychological capital of hope, optimism, resilience and efficacy to the extent that they not only have a clearer understanding of the various emotional and other factors at play in their attitude towards the possible promotion opportunity, but, should they decide to go ahead, they are in a better placed psychologically capable and more motivated to make a convincing, committed application. 

Of course, if they decide not to apply for the promotion, they will also have a better understanding of why they have chosen that course and a ‘narrative’ about their decision that frames it very positively. 

An adaptation of the exercise to work with a team

These cards can also be used to work with a team on a challenge. In this case...

Help the team clarify the challenge or the decision they are trying to make.

First lay out the mindfulness cards (either side up, depending on your preference in that context for words or images), ask each team member in turn to pick a card that says something to them about the challenge and to explain what that is. They then return the card to the pile and the next person selects. It doesn’t matter if some people choose the same card to speak to.

Next move on the hope pile asking each person in turn to pick a card that ‘gives me hope that we this challenge/make a good decision etc.’

Follow through with the other piles asking an initial instruction like

  • Pick a card that represents the belief you have in the ability of the team to ... meet the challenge successfully (efficacy)
  • Pick a card that represents my sense of the resilience of this team to deal with the difficulties and obstacles we might encounter (resilience)
  • Pick a card that represents your view of the resources of positivity, aspiration and flexible thinking that the team bring that will help us stay motivated the challenge...even as things constantly change (optimism)

Throughout this conversation, or at the end, you can use the question cards to aid the team discussion.

I would recommend taking a quick baseline measure before you start the exercise of ‘how confident do you feel that – we are sufficiently focused on this challenge (mindfulness)’  ‘how hopefully are you that we can meet the challenge (hope)’ and so on on a scale of 1 -10. And then take another quick measure at the end against the same question so the group can ‘see’ the shift in their psychological preparedness for the challenge. Although to be honest its likely to be evident as the mood in the room shifts through the conversation.

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Sarah Jane Lewis