The Optics of Optimism - Part 1
It wasn’t until I got my first pair of glasses in sixth grade that I realized signs had readable letters, leaves weren’t blurry green, and I no longer had to sit in the front row to read the blackboard.
Yes. The doctor said that without correction I would be classified as legally blind. That’s a scary thought when you are only 11 years old. Now, decades later, having gone through thick glasses, contact lenses and Lasik surgery, I look at the world in a far different light.
However, there’s another vision that occupies my mind these days: the light of optimism.
Given the intense divisions that percolate around us, the degradation of our planet, the cry of the poor, the anguish of the displaced, a fractured global leadership, cyberterrorism and economic whiplash, optimism seems hard to come by.
Thankfully, there are individuals whose spirit and actions offer hope that the glass can be seen as half-full. Optimism is the activating ingredient in resiliency and if we are to grow through (not bounce back) from times like these, it is critical to pay attention to these role models.
The February 2018 edition of FAST COMPANY Magazine profiled an amazing array of men and women from all areas of business and industry, profit and non-profit, to glean how we can begin the difficult work of building a better tomorrow.In the next few posts, I will share what lessons I am learning.My hope is that you, too, can decide where is your point of control and begin to use creativity, connection, and compassion to shape the world around us.
The first lesson is:
Determine your point of control. In the musical Hamilton, Alexander asks Aaron Burr, “If you stand for nothing, what will you fall for?” Tragically, as I write this, the students from Parkland, FL who witnessed the mass murder of 17 of their classmates and teachers, are showing adults what it means “to stand for something.” They are not waiting for adults to make changes to prevent such violence. Instead, they are taking control and using social media and non-violent means to begin organizing marches and campaigns.
Take thoughtful action.I have always believed, as I state in my lectures, “action is the antidote for anxiety.”But action is not knee-jerk or rash. In the case of the students from Parkland, they are using tools that they know well (social media) to create a ground swell for change. Indeed, perhaps our greatest teachers for this world will be the younger generation who will carry us forward without being hamstrung by tradition, protocol, or cronyism.
Look to your organization as a platform for change. Nike’s Hannah Jones insists that environmental protection and sustainability are possible. She’s the VP of Nike’s innovation and is charged with developing materials and ethical manufacturing so that Nike can reduce its carbon footprint on the world.It matters not whether an organization is as large as Nike or as small as my consultancy practice, all of us can be champions for change.
Howard Zinn believed that “to have hope, one does not need certainty. Only possibility.” What a banner for all leaders to carry into the ever-shifting, chaotic world.
Practice your vision. Look for what is possible - not impossible.
Until the next time…