Life and Leadership Hinge on Optimism

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Life and Leadership Hinge on Optimism

Whether you are a leader or a follower, your performance (and level of enjoyment) in life hinge a lot on your world-view, specifically whether you see the glass as being half full or half empty. We tend to get what we expect to get.

Nowhere was this better evidenced than in a too quietly covered event in the recent Olympic Games. Common sense dictates that qualification to compete in Olympic track and field events involves a great deal of skill, preparation, and God-given ability. Oscar Pistorius, a South African sprinter, didn’t just compete, he finished eighth in the 400 meter dash semifinal event. But Oscar isn’t just any athlete. He was the first double amputee to compete in the Olympic Games, ever.

Some might say that Oscar came up a bit short in the God-given ability department, by virtue of his disability. But they would be wrong. Oscar doesn’t see it that way. According to him, ‘My mother used to tell us, “Carl, put on your shoes. Oscar, put on your prosthetic legs.” So I grew up not thinking I had a disability. I grew up thinking I had different shoes.” Talk about optimism…

Those of us who are in leadership roles can only turn in Oscar-like performances if we are willing to see the possibilities in people ahead of their shortcomings, to see them as having “different shoes.” This is anything but happy talk. Rather, it is an expressed preference for valuing possibilities ahead of limitations.

Managers who choose to see their people as real, pulsating, idea generating, responsibility-taking teammates will find themselves surrounded by more focused, fired up workers, and will outperform their less optimistic peers by a wide margin over time.

Those are my thoughts. Your opinion is welcome, as always.

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