“Why is Monday so far from Friday, and Friday so near to Monday?”
Image from kappit.com
The practice of looking forward is a powerful thing. When there is something desirable in our future, or when we are having fun, time literally flies. Conversely, when the future is undesirable or dreaded, time slows down, or seems to prolong the discomfort.
This is where a magical pair of forward-looking glasses can be helpful. The secret to this visionary tool is to look for, design, and create new and better futures in as many areas of life as possible, where the anticipation of a better tomorrow is always there to be embraced and enjoyed.
How can a more creative, optimistic, forward-looking perspective enhance the quality of each of your Mondays and Fridays to come?
“I have hope and I’m not afraid to use it.”
Image from porsperityconnection.org
One of the top qualities I look for in my coaching clients is optimism—a hopeful perspective on life. Through an unscientific evaluation, I have found that such individuals are generally more successful and far more satisfied with their efforts and progress. They are also far more enjoyable to be around.
Fearful and pessimistic individuals, on the other hand, tend to look through the lens of what is wrong or what won’t work, and therefore, stop themselves or avoid attempting new pursuits where failure is possible.
They often see even good things that happen to them as temporary or a “fluke,” as opposed to the hopeful people who see setbacks as only temporary.
How would an even more hopeful perspective on life help you achieve better results and attract more wonderful, equally hopeful people into your world?
“Become the most positive and enthusiastic person you know.”
Positive psychology is the scientific study of human flourishing, and an applied approach to optimal functioning. It has been defined as the study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals, communities, and organizations to thrive.
Although no single quote can capture the full impact and magnitude of this field of study, this one does point us in the direction of human qualities that can lead us to the better life we all desire.
Consider doing a Google search on the subject of “positive psychology” to learn more about many techniques and strategies to leading a fuller, more satisfying life.
If you have 20 minutes, check out Martin Seligman’s 2004 Ted Talk titled “The New Era of Positive Psychology.” Over 3 million people have viewed it to date.
To learn even more, consider Seligman’s books:
Learned Optimism (1991)
Authentic Happiness (2002)
“Complaining is Draining.”
The discovery process I use to determine if a prospective client and I are a good fit includes 20 criteria. Each item in the survey provides insight into the likely success of our coaching relationship. Over the years, I have placed greater importance on the attributes related to optimism and a positive attitude.
Although individuals who exhibit high degrees of skepticism and judgmental tendencies can achieve favorable results in a coaching relationship, people working with these individuals can find the relationship extra challenging and draining.
Examine relationships in your professional and personal lives that you feel are draining. What adjustments could be made to change the relationships for the better? Please take a closer look at your own attitude and propensity for complaining, and consider if working on yourself might be a good place to start.
“An optimist may see a light where there is none, but why must the pessimist always run to blow it out?”
– René Descartes, French philosopher and mathematician (attrib.)
Image from Flickr by spcbrass
One of my favorite books that supports effective interpersonal and group communications is Six Thinking Hats, by Edward de Bono.
In his model, a “yellow hat” represents the optimistic individual who sees the light of possibility in things. The pessimist or “black hat” represents the negative perception on matters that often stops progress.
Of course there are four more hats to explore in our journey to more effective individual and group thinking, and I encourage you to pursue these as part of the following exercise.
What percentage of the time do you wear the yellow and black hats in your professional and personal interactions?
How can you increase your emphasis on the sunny side of things and diminish or remove that dark cloud that extinguishes the light of possibility?
You can find a one-page pdf summary about the six hats here, and you may wish to explore “putting on” one or more of the others: www.foodsec.org/DL/course/shortcourseFK/en/pdf/trainerresources/PG_SixThinkingHats.pdf
“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”
– Helen Keller, author, activist and lecturer
One of the factors most associated with success in a coaching relationship is optimism. Perhaps one reason for this is that optimists see setbacks as temporary and summon the courage and tenacity to stay the course toward their goals. Pessimists, on the other hand, tend to see setbacks and failures as more permanent, and often give up far too soon with “what’s the use?” or “it’s far too difficult.”
Keller was faced with major life obstacles: she was deaf and blind from the age of 19 months. But she became the first deaf and blind person to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree, and she was an activist for women’s suffrage and workers’ rights, and many other progressive causes. She even published 12 books during her lifetime.
If you would like to exercise your optimism muscle, consider one of the following resources:
Learned Optimism and Authentic Happiness, both by Martin Seligman
Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar (a well known professor at Harvard)
“The optimist already sees the scar over the wound; the pessimist sees the wound underneath the scar.”
– Ernst Schroder, mathematician
The war between optimists and pessimists has raged since the beginning of time. Which camp are you in? For the purpose of this post, please don’t take the back door and choose “realist” – though I do appreciate you thinking outside the box!
It turns out that both strategies come in pretty handy, depending on the situation. Optimists tend to have a promotion focus on growth and advancement. Pessimists, on other hand, tend to be more focused on security and safety. Schroeder was probably an optimist, given the fact that a scar is a protective and healing phenomenon supporting new growth.
Where are you engaged in the rapid healing and growth from wounds you may recently have experienced?
Where are you still feeling the wounds of the past that should have fully healed by now?
“There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something better tomorrow.”
– Orison Swett Marden, early self-help writer
We all have them: good days, and not so good days. If you would like to increase the number of good ones, work on your optimism muscle, always hoping for (and, yes, working toward) a better future.
Consider the difference between the hopeful worker on a Friday, looking forward to the weekend, versus the sad and blue individual on a Sunday evening, not so delighted about the Monday ahead.
Ask yourself these questions, whether you are in a good mood or not, to provide yourself and others with a tonic for a better tomorrow:
• What am I looking forward to?
• What can I work on today, to make my tomorrow better?
• How can I be a catalyst for others to have their tomorrows be great too?
“…An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
– Winston Churchill
Call it attitude, perspective, a paradigm, or a mental model: how we look at things affects everything. The lenses we wear as we look at life truly color what we see.
I tend to lean heavily in the direction of optimism and possibilities. I seek moments of learning when things do not go the way I desire.
Most people like to be around others with a can-do, find-a-way perspective.
What strategies can you develop to see good things in life as the norm, and the not-so-good things as temporary barriers to overcome?
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“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark.”
Image from Unsplash by AJ Yorio
I guess spending five years painting the ceiling of the Sistine chapel is an example of reaching consistently for new heights. In fact, most of Michelangelo’s works are examples of extraordinary achievements.
- What have been your proudest moments in life?
- Where have you dared to achieve greatness, or a higher purpose?
- How did stretching or reaching for these seemingly out of reach goals help you grow?
Even if we fail on attempt after attempt, we can try again.
Where in your professional or personal life are you playing too small and too safe?
What goals in your life are worth greater risk, even the risk of failure?