Choosing Optimism

“A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.”~Harry Truman

When we get a new job, we’re excited about our new opportunity. We look forward to becoming part of the professional team. We hope the culture within the organization will be uplifting. After all, we did choose to pursue employment with this company, so a positive experience would affirm our good judgement. The company did agree that our skills and our personality would be a good fit for the organization. That’s a good start.

However, according to Forbes Magazine, 53% of Americans are unhappy at work. 79% leave their jobs due to a perceived lack of appreciation. Only 12% of Americans leave their jobs for more money. That’s a pretty good indicator that our work environments can be less than fulfilling. 

When organizational leaders are uninspiring, hard to get along with or motivationally incompetent, employees can form a negative self-perception that can become self-perpetuating. 

Learning how to use optimism can make a huge difference in how we operate in a difficult work culture.

Setbacks are Temporary: Optimistic people acknowledge negative events but view them as a temporary situation. This allows them to move toward a problem-solving mentality in lieu of adopting defeatism. 

Differentiating Between Accountability and Self-Blame: It’s important to be accountable for contributions we make to a negative outcome. When we take ownership of our performance, it allows us to learn from the episode. When we blame ourselves, we get stuck in a negative mindset. Applying an optimistic perspective to the experience allows us to move forward with confidence and makes it less likely that we’ll repeat the negative decision or behavior.

Our Optimistic Lens: When challenges come our way at work, we have a choice to frame our perspective. An optimistic approach can look like this: “I get to solve this problem today,” or “I get to learn new technology.” Positive self-talk won’t change a deadline or soften an expectation. It can however, encourage us to approach our work challenges as self-improvement projects.

“The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true.” 
― James Branch Cabell

Training ourselves to view challenges and difficult work scenarios through the lens of optimism reduces stress and contributes to a more productive, problem-solving environment. Employees who approach work through an optimistic point of view are usually the ones who exceed expectations and enjoy a more rewarding work experience.

At Possibilities Consulting, we help organizations explore the perspectives that create their work culture. We help teams move toward positive, productive outcomes in a rapidly changing world. We offer training in inspirational leadership, intentional culture, and high-performance teams.