Will 2021 be a better year than 2020? I have absolutely no idea. Maybe it would be nice to see into the future and know for certain, but I can’t and I don’t. But as I wade further and further into this year, I can hope that the water warms, or I can fear that a big wave is going to knock me over. I can choose optimism or pessimism.
Optimism is about hope – it’s about faith or belief or confidence in the possibility of a positive outcome.
Colin Powell once said that perpetual optimism is a force multiplier. In other words, positivity can create momentum, can create power – people are attracted to it and will go with you if that optimism can become a sincere all-the-time thing.
If we want our co-workers and customers to follow our lead, it benefits us to enlist the power of optimism. If we want pleasant, positive, Yes-oriented interactions, it benefits us to be pleasant, hopeful, and optimistic.
Sometimes it’s easiest to define a word or explain a concept by contrasting it, so let’s consider some examples. Kahlil Gibran said: The optimist sees the rose and not the thorns, the pessimist stares at the thorns, oblivious to the rose. Here are a couple other quotes…
- A stumbling block to the pessimist is a stepping stone to the optimist.
- A pessimist thinks there’s nothing so bad it can’t get worse; an optimist thinks there’s nothing so good it can’t get better.
- An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity; a pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity.
Now let’s refocus on the good – the optimistic viewpoint – hoping and believing that things will turn out well and imparting that hope and confidence to others:
- Yogi Berra used to say it ain’t over ‘til it’s over. At the end of sporting events where my team is losing, my wife likes to say: It’s not over yet. They can come back!
- Robert Browning encourages us not to look down, but rather to look up. Don’t focus on the difficulty you’re in as much as the direction you want to go.
- Walt Whitman said the strongest and sweetest songs yet remain to be sung.
If times are difficult, remember that today’s circumstances don’t dictate tomorrow’s outcomes. If times are good, know that they can get even better.
Often our perspectives and our outlooks affect others, and if we want to draw people in and get them to have confidence in us, our decisions, our direction – we can use optimism to be that draw.
Use optimism as a force for good in your service of others.