How to Develop Realistic Optimism
TWO QUESTIONS LEADERS ASK IN TOUGH TIMES
Life tends to present us with challenges in the most inopportune times. Those that don’t re-evaluate and learn- usually cycle through the same events over and over again. Why? Because they haven’t effectively dealt with the difficult issue and grown from the experience.
I was on my bike ride this morning early at 5:30 a.m. We are entering our “tough” season of summer desert heat and I was thinking about a heated encounter with a fellow board member a year ago.
I was halfway through a two-year term as chairman of a non-profit board. The board was comprised of very strong personalities that all had the best interest of the group in mind. One particular board member, I’ll call him “John,” was particularly boisterous in his opinions on how things should be done. He would oftentimes try to take over the meetings and interrupt other members in the middle of a sentence. In the meetings, I would politely ask him to let others express their opinions.
After each board meeting, two or three members typically would approach me about addressing his inconsiderate behavior. Tensions were rising, and a few members threatened to resign unless I did something.
Almost a year ago, at our monthly board meeting, John lost his temper and erupted in the meeting. His anger was directed at me, as a result of his dislike of the way I was carrying out the agenda. We had many new business items and it was a packed house because of the topics for discussion.
After the meeting, I took John aside and inquired as to why he was upset. We set-up another time to talk a week later. That subsequent conversation didn’t go well with him, and he became even more agitated with me. However, he was not as disruptive in future meetings.
DEVELOPING REALISTIC OPTIMISM
Choose to see tough times as learning experiences. If we choose to look at a situation as a character-enhancing experience, we can come out it a much wiser person. In general, things will turn out in life, despite setbacks and frustrations when we seize the opportunity.
How optimistic will you be about moving forward with your life when you see tough times as paths to future success?
When you can tap into the intelligent mindset, you’ll be in a place of realistic optimism. We are sometimes forced to change, so we might as well make positive changes. Learn how to get through the problem, how to deal with it effectively, and how to grow out of it forever.
TWO STEPS IN LEAVING BEHIND OLD BEHAVIORS
1. What do I need to learn from this situation, and how can I grow out of it? In my case with board member John, I learned a few things: I was reminded about being empathetic while leading. I found myself struggling with not taking his comments personally. I had to re-evaluate my values and identity. Then I felt confident that I did my very best in the situation, and wouldn’t have changed any of my actions. I also realized that I handled the situation better than I would’ve in the past in a similar circumstance.
2. What am I willing to do to never have this problem again? In the above-stated situation, I would do a couple things: a. Re-evaluate my values much sooner and feel confident in my actions. b. I would be less inclined to second- guess my leadership.
RECALIBRATE AND ACCELERATE PERFORMANCE
Get curious about yourself and discover the true you. Uncover why you react the way that you do in tough situations. Gaining this self-awareness will help you in choosing the proper mindset in similar situations in the future.
Change your state of mind and change your life. It is a good practice to re-evaluate your values every three to four months. It can be eye-opening to see the changes in values. This conscious realization can also guide you in creating a new belief system that fits with your newly defined values.
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