Centre for Continuing Education

Psychology of Success Course

Psychology. Explore the human mind.

COVID-19 update: arrangement of our courses

We are now delivering courses online and in-person. Please check the delivery format of each class before enrolling.

Please note that course materials (excluding prescribed texts) are shared electronically within 48 hours of course commencement. Printing is not available.

Is low motivation or negative thinking holding you back? Tools from positive psychology can help you feel more optimistic and motivated. Learn about the psychology behind building a success mindset and how to stay focused on your business or personal goals.

Discover how to focus your attention, overcome challenges and adopt a positive outlook. Learn to build peak performance states and ‘get into the zone’ psychologically. Explore tools for overcoming problems and designing pathways to success. The positive psychology topics you’ll cover in this course include growth mindset, positive deviance, strengths theory, intrinsic motivation, hope theory, flow states and solution-focused thinking techniques.

This is an introductory level course, with a focus on practical application of positive psychology. The class will include group activities and written exercises, designed to support active learning.


The aim of this course is to give you practical experience in using positive psychology to build a success mindset for yourself.


By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • use the learned optimism model and hope theory to adopt thinking patterns that support success
  • define success on your own terms and work out how to achieve it
  • overcome procrastination and build peak performance states, using the positive deviance model
  • identify your core strengths and capitalise on them in building success
  • make the process of working towards your goals rewarding, by accessing states of psychological flow
  • overcome challenges and setbacks on your path to success.


What is a success mindset?

A success mindset is a way of thinking that supports success. People with success mindsets tend to use optimistic, learning-focused ways of thinking. In this module, you will explore the link between growth mindsets and success mindsets. We’ll also discuss positive deviance theory and how it can help you flourish. Finally, you will clarify what success means for you and the styles of thinking that will help you achieve it.

Building a drive to succeed

To create your desired success, you’ll need to make changes in both your thinking and behavioural patterns. Achieving those changes requires motivation and focus. In this module, you will learn how to use ‘creative tension’ to work out what you want and motivate yourself to achieve it.

Making success meaningful

People with success mindsets don’t just dream – they actively work out how to achieve their desired outcomes. That’s what you will learn to do in this section of the course. Specifically, you will learn to set truly meaningful goals which align with what matters to you. We’ll discuss the mindset implications of research into optimism, hopefulness and meaning-making. Then you will try out a positive goal-setting process and discuss the ways it promotes intrinsic motivation.

Capitalising on your strengths

In positive psychology, a strength is something you excel at – and which energises you. In this section of the course, you will identify your key strengths, so you can apply them to the task of building success. We will discuss why the energising element of a strength is important when building a success mindset. You’ll then pinpoint the character strengths you are currently using, those you are over-utilising and those that you want to use more often. Finally, you will develop a plan using your strengths as you work towards your desired future.

Getting into 'the zone'

Athletes call it ‘the zone’. Positive psychologists call it flow. A flow state is a state of total immersion in an activity. It is characterised by high performance and full-focus of attention.

Achieving a flow state helps you perform at your best. It also makes taking action more enjoyable. In this module, you’ll discover how to use eight essential promoters of flow to increase your ability to be in the zone. You will also get practical tips on how to manage both yourself and your environment to achieve psychological flow.

Responding resiliently to setbacks

Like it or not, setbacks will occur on your path to success. The good news is you can use hope theory and solution-focused thinking to deal with them. This section of the course focuses on how two styles of thinking – agency thinking and pathways thinking – can help you deal with problems positively. You will learn to use simple solution-focused thinking techniques so you can find ways to overcome challenges and setbacks.

Intended audience

Suitable for business owners, entrepreneurs, managers and individuals wishing to generate greater success within their profession. It may also be of interest to coaches, human resource practitioners and educators.

Delivery style

You will get the most from this course if you are:

  • willing to contribute to group discussions about your success mindset
  • confident communicating verbally in small groups
  • comfortable participating in role-play style activities.

You’ll learn through a variety of methods including:

  • mini-lectures
  • video presentations
  • Q & A sessions
  • demonstrations by the trainer
  • practical group activities
  • individual planning activities.


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Biswas-Diener 2010, Happiness, Healing, Enhancement: Your casebook collection for applying positive psychology in therapy, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ, US.

Boyatzis, R and Akriyou, K 2006, ‘The ideal self as the driver of intentional change’, Journal of Management Development, vol. 25, no. 7, pp. 624-642.

Brockbank, A and McGill, I 2012, ‘Coaching Models’, In Facilitating Reflective Learning Through Mentoring & Coaching, 2nd ed., Kogan Page, London, UK, pp. 104-122.

Brunstein, J, Schultheiss, O, & Maier, G 1999, ‘The Pursuit of Personal Goals: A Motivational Approach to Well-Being and Life Adjustment’, in Action and Self-Development: Theory and Research Through the Lifespan, Sage Publications, pp. 169-196.

Cox, E, Backhirova, T, & Clutterbuck, D 2014, The complete handbook of coaching. [Kindle iOS version]

Clutterbuck, D, David, S, Megginson, D, & Congleton, C 2013, ‘Goals: A long-term view’, In S David, D Clutterbuck & D Megginson (eds.), Beyond Goals, Gower, Surrey, UK, pp. 1-20.

Driver, M 2011, Coaching Positively: Lessons for Coaches from Positive Psychology. [Kindle iOS Version]

Emmons, RA & McCullough, ME 2003, ‘Countless blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 84, pp. 377-389.

Ensher, EA & Murphy, SE 2005, Power Coaching, Jossey-Bass.

Forster, J, Higgins, Higgins, ET, & Idson, LC 1998, ‘Approach and avoidance strength during goal attainment: Regulatory focus and the "goal looms larger" effect’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 75, no. 5, pp. 1115-1131.

Gallwey, WT 2000, The inner game of work: Overcoming mental obstacles for maximum performance, Orion Business, Great Britain. Retrieved September 7th, 2016, from IECL website: http://ieclonline.com/345/pg/topics/219/level-two-intentions-and-readings-part-i/

Goleman, D 2013, Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence [Kindle iOS version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com.au

Gollwitzer, PM 1999, ‘Implementation intentions: Simple effects of simple plans’, American Psychologist, vol. 54, no. 7, pp. 493-503.

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Grant, AM 2016 in press, ‘What Constitutes Evidence-based Coaching? A Two-by-Two Framework for Distinguishing Strong from Weak Evidence for Coaching’, International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching & Mentoring.

Green, LS, Oades, LG, & Grant, AM 2006, ‘Cognitive-Behavioural, Solution-Focused Life Coaching: Enhancing goal striving, well-being and hope’, Journal of Positive Psychology, vol. 1, no. 3, pp. 142-149.

Gregory, JB, Beck, JW, & Carr, AE 2011, ‘Goals, feedback, and self-regulation: Control theory as a natural framework for executive coaching’, Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, vol. 63, no. 1, pp. 26-38.

Linley, PA and Harrington, S 2005, ‘Positive psychology and coaching: perspectives on integration’, The Coaching Psychologist, 1:2005.

Linley, PA, & Joseph, S (eds.) 2004, Positive Psychology in Practice, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ.

Linley, A, Willars, J, & Biswas-Diener, R 2010, The strengths book: Be confident, be successful, and enjoy better relationships by realising the best of you, CAPP Press, Coventry, UK.

Locke, EA & Latham, GP 2002, ‘Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation’, American Psychologist, vol. 57, no. 9, pp. 705-717.

Locke, EA & Latham, GP 2006, ‘New directions in goal-setting theory’, Current Directions in Psychological Science, vol. 15, no. 5, pp. 265-268.

Lyubomirsky, S 2010, The how of happiness: A practical approach to getting the life you want, Piatkus, London.

Rogers, J 2004, Coaching Skills a Handbook, Open University Press, England.

Sheldon, KM & Lyubomirsky, S 2006, ‘How to increase and sustain positive emotions: The effects of expressing gratitude and visualising best possible selves’, Journal of Positive Psychology, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 73-82.

Stober, D and Grant, A 2006, Evidence based Coaching Handbook, 1st ed Wiley, New York, pp. 103-127.

Theeboom, T, Beersma, B, & van Vianen, AEM 2013, ‘Does coaching work? A meta-analysis on the effects of coaching on individual level outcomes in an organizational context’, The Journal of Positive Psychology, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 1-18.

University of the Sunshine Coast 2014, Reframing Your Thinking. Retrieved from http://www.usc.edu.au/media/3850/Reframingyourthinking.pdf

Wesson, K, & Boniwell, I 2007, ‘Flow theory–its application to coaching psychology’, International Coaching Psychology Review, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 33-43.

Whitemore, J 2002, Coaching for Performance: GROWing People, Performance Purpose, Nicholas Brealey, London.


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  • Central locations
  • Course materials – yours to keep
  • CCE Statement of Completion

Psychology of Success Course

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What others say.

  • Great course. Brillant tutor.
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