By Laurie Cure

Police search lake for missing girl

6.4 earthquake hits California

Synagogue attacker took hostages

North Korea threatens military steps against Japan

Uvalde school district fails key security test

News headlines (like today’s above) can leave one feeling anything but optimistic. We are bombarded with the struggles of the #Great Resignation, #QuietFiring, economic challenges, labor shortages. . . the list goes on and on.

In researching a topic this morning, I found 8 articles all dating from 2003 to current. This statement appeared in every one of them. “America is coping with a difficult economy”. Are we ever not in crisis?

Crafting a narrative is important and how we view the world shapes everything. I find myself wondering if there is a way to pose a more appreciative story or is this truly the neverending reality we operate from?

In a world where the negative and sensationalized is viewed as the only way to garner attention, leaders must consciously and assertively break the mold. In reality, individuals are not motivated, inspired or engaged by a gloom and doom lens and hope is not built around cynicism. 

In our world, optimism does not come easily, yet your employees (and likely yourself) are craving it. Optimism is the fuel that drives achievement and dedication. Optimism paints a vision of the future that people can get on board with and unite around. It incorporates realities, but taps into innate perseverance that becomes a rallying cry for positive forward movement. 

You know those people. Not the ones who are annoyingly positive, but the leaders you have had the privilege of following. 

  • The ones who offer hope and support. 
  • The ones who break down your fear and give you a platform to achieve something great. 
  • The ones who show you a path to get to your and the organization’s goals.

Optimistic leaders are the ones who can align your goals, their goals and the organization’s goals seamlessly. They reflect the favorable aspects of the future and set the expectation for a positive outcome. They are encouraging, build momentum and invest in those around them. They embrace a #growth mindset.

Being an optimistic leader requires you to ground yourself in a new story. It requires us to build a genuine sense of hope. Here are some tips to support you in building optimism as a leader

1. Co-create an inspiring vision of the future and celebrate the milestones along the path. 

The future is a blank slate. It offers a picture that can be anything you want it to be. Get yourself into a position or location to envision a new future. Talk to new people, with new ideas, bring your team together to explore what is possible and paint a picture that inspires you and your team and aligns to your core values. 

Often, we can see a better future and even inspire others to that future, but we don’t stop to appreciate all the work we have accomplished along the way. We take a lot of steps towards creating our future, but rarely do we pause to look back with a little appreciation. We also risk moving the goalpost and fail to recognize or appreciate all the growth we have achieved. Pause, recognize, and celebrate how far you have come. 

2. Embrace a possibility mindset

It can be easy, tempting and often rewarding to wallow and complain. After all, life is hard and it’s frustrating when others don’t see your struggle. I often use the phrase, “we have to complain before we can create”. Our challenge as individuals and leaders is to know when to flip the switch. At some point, complaining takes over, becomes exhausting for others and stops getting you the benefits you once felt from it. At some point, your complaining, must turn to creating. Consider the possibilities, seek new ways of addressing your challenges and find learning in everything. These things help us to remain optimistic.

3. Take control and exert your personal agency

We give up our power all the time. In reality we have infinite choices that can take us in infinite directions. We might not always like the choices available to us at the time, but we always have control and agency that we can exercise.  Prioritize what matters most, consider the consequences of various options, explore the specifics of where you do have control and take action. 

Optimism requires a new mindset. It means shifting your lens. It’s not about always being positive, but it IS about always seeing the brighter side.