The pot was boiling over, the timer was beeping away its alert that the main course needed to be removed from the oven, the table still needed setting, and people were arriving. Yet, through it all, she moved about with grace taking care of each challenge with a positive frame of mind. The party was going to go well no matter what. That was the attitude that kept disaster at bay.
This, or something like it, is what I have witnessed many times when my wife is preparing for a dinner party. Although I am there to help, she is in charge. I am a disaster at such things. I am more of a one-thing-at-a-time person. Juggling all the timing involved in making multiple courses is just out of my league. When it all starts going nuts, I find it hard to remain positive. My wife though remains optimistic. When things look dire, she soldiers on as if everything is great. It is inspiring.
Optimism, the belief that there is always a way to make things work even when clouds are setting in is a gift. Optimists are ever hopeful and believe there is an alternative. Mind you, they don’t ignore reality, they just see a light at the end of the tunnel. As another optimist friend of mine so often demonstrates on the golf course when eyeing a 50-foot putt for par, instead of muttering about the impossibility of making it, he will stubbornly let everyone know that it just might go in.
So, what’s the rub? Why this focus on optimism? Well, optimism might just be one of the most critical keys to creating great experiences. As I have already said, optimism is inspiring. It empowers us. It gives us an unfailing faith in what can be.
As far as workplaces and customer spaces, optimism keeps us focused on results. It looks beyond what seem like hopeless obstacles and looks for every possible solution to get us home. Imagine that important project you’re working on is going over budget, the team is squabbling over what to do differently, the boss is peering in with concerned eyes, and the customer is waiting “patiently,” it all looks bleak. While the pessimist is trying to figure out how to explain what went wrong, the optimist is looking for every way to make it happen, not because they know it just has to get done but because they believe it can get done.
If we want better experiences for people, staying cool in the face of pressure with an optimistic belief in possibility and a feeling that a positive result can and will happen is perhaps the superpower most needed. My wife’s unfailing spirit that never gives up and sees the light in the end as always possible makes every party and gathering a good experience even with all the misgivings and apprehensions floating around in my pessimist brain.
If you want to create better experiences for those around you, try optimism, try looking at what can be instead of what’s not. If, like me, it is not your natural bent, work on it, consciously tell yourself there is light if you look for it, and then keep moving forward, you have as much chance of making the putt as you do missing it. Lead the way, be optimistic and see what happens. What is there to lose, or better yet, what is there to gain?
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