Optimists and Skeptics Look For Results in the Week Ahead

One of Colin Powell’s famous guideposts for leadership is, “perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.” I always loved the West Point feeling of it: a “force multiplier” sounds so technical and mathematical and militarily strategic. Snap your fingers: you’re optimistic! You’re optimistic, your force has doubled! So today, an example of how optimism works, but also a realistic-skeptical question about how one can — or whether one can – willy-nilly make optimism work for them.

Last Sunday night my wife was complaining of intense abdominal pain. Given her extraordinary optimism, I nearly had to order her to go to the doctor on Tuesday morning. Within 10 hours of a CT scan, surgeons were removing an obstructed section of her small intestine. She was a patient patient for about two days, but as the meds wore off she quickly became her old self, way more optimistic than patient. Tubes were removed; one after the next. Friday morning I walked into her room to find her in her street clothes. Surprised, I asked “Are you showing them that you’re going to will yourself right out of here?” She smiled and said, “You bet.” I suspect that if it had been me, it would have taken me a week to get out of there. She was out in four days. I am utterly certain in this case: Perpetual optimism was a captivity minimizer.

I am drawn to people of optimism. Obviously I married one. I myself have deep-down faith and hope, but I’ve never been a cheery optimist, able to summon it at will. I have to work at my attitude constantly. This Monday morning I offer two thoughts for your consideration. First, optimism IS! a force multiplier. Can you possibly disagree? So second, make a choice to value it. If you can generate it legitimately in yourself, do so, and be grateful you have a gift for it! If you’re (more like me): thinking yourself born of gloomy people, raised in a land without sunshine, the victim of sundry bad moments, “blessed” with a skeptical mind, then recognize that. But look for ways to nudge yourself up the spectrum of hope. Here are a few:

* Consciously ally your self with upbeat people.
* Condition yourself to look for the silver lining.
* Make lists of good things that are happening.
* Look for opportunities and not just problems.
* Take little steps that lead to where you want to go.
* Bear witness to the genuine power of optimism in those who are fortunate to be blessed with it as a natural strength and way of being.

On Tuesday Jennifer knew she was going to be out of the hospital by the end of the week. What success might you will yourself into this week? as you

Lead with your best self!