I am an unabashed optimist. Sometimes my optimism is seen as naivety (I’ve been called a Pollyanna). Other times, my optimist is seen as putting on a brave face (which suggests I’m masking my real feelings). For me, it’s neither, it just is and it’s always been that way.
In these times though, I’ve been tempted to temper my optimism because seeing the upside in bleak situations can be annoying or worse, viewed as being tone deaf.
That said, I’m challenging that notion because I have a firm belief that right now, we need optimism and we need the optimists to shine. I mean, what’s the alternative?
Optimism isn’t about being insensitive or downplaying the gravity our current reality. We know for so many across the world COVID19 is dire in so many ways. Optimism is about seeing the upside of a tough situation and believing, with intensity, that we’ll all get on the other side of this crisis together and that some good will come of it.
Simon Sinek recently put out a quick informal thought video, spelling out his take on the difference between Optimism and Positivity. He says, “Optimism is different from being positive and it definitely isn’t naïve. Optimism is not the denial of reality. Optimism is the belief the future is positive. The belief that we will get through this together.”
In the absence of certainty and how the future will unfold, we can look at upsides just as easily as we can look at downsides. The reality is, we’re speculating either way.
How do we stay optimistic?
I put this question to my teammates. The answers were thoughtful, varied, honest, and inspiring.
“I remind myself of what’s in my control and what isn’t”
“I think about the future I want to create, and the skills/mindset changes I can work on now to prepare more for success”
“I remind myself that we are all in this together”
“Sometimes I just think about people who have it way worse than I do it helps me remind myself that I have it good, I should be grateful”
“Maintaining a growth mindset – even if things don’t go the way I had hoped, there is always something to learn.”
“Thinking the best of others and taking the time to put myself in their shoes – when deals don’t come together with clients or candidates, this shift this has helped me remain optimistic.”
I was also reminded that optimism comes easier to some than to others.
“I find that getting to a point of optimism is a process and takes work – it’s not just instantaneous.”
If it’s hard for you and yet, you are able to get there sometimes, I applaud you.
We all have our own paths to optimism whether that’s through faith, mindset, beliefs, reframing or hard work.
How can you boost your optimism?
What’s good about this situation? A good coach will ask this question when they want to help someone shift a perspective. Feeling pessimistic, tired, helpless or not useful? Think you aren’t making progress or using your time wisely ? Here’s some questions to reflect upon.
- Who have you connected with that’s made a difference?
- What are you learning about yourself that is surprising you?
- What are you learning about your colleagues as you work remotely?
- What new helpful technology have you explored?
- What are you learning about vulnerability and courage?
- What have you put in place today that will serve you, your company or your clients better in the future?
- What will be different about you when you emerge from this crisis?
Pessimism has a way of fueling the fear in these uncertain times. The good news is, we can choose optimism.
I am optimistic we will get through this and will emerge a stronger, wiser and more resilient version of ourselves.