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The Optimistic Executive

“What I’ve really learned over time is that optimism is a very, very important part of leadership.” – Bob Iger

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Optimism as “an inclination to put the most favorable construction upon actions and events or to anticipate the best possible outcome.”

I believe that Optimism can be birth within a person who chooses to explore and develop their untapped potential.  Potential always speaks of possibilities, and knowing your potential opens your mind to the opportunities around you, which links your thinking to probabilities.

The more you consider the positive aspects of your capabilities, the more your excitement will increase and motivate you to begin creating a path toward realizing your potential. Longevity among executives is only possible by lifelong learning, and lifelong learners are always growing their potential.

Optimism Isn’t a Gift It’s a Choice

Noam Chomsky says, “Optimism is a strategy for making a better future.  Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so.”  Optimism provides the drive to uncover the wisdom for success hidden within your failures.  Remember, success isn’t a birthright; it’s a personal responsibility. Optimism, undaunted by failure, generates perseverance, which in turn develops character.

Optimistic leaders are more likely to examine their failures or negative experiences as isolated incidents, and temporary setbacks, without personalizing or internalizing them.  A non-attachment approach enables them to embrace their failures with a perspective of learning and seeing the prospects for positive improvements.

John C. Maxwell notes, “A successful failure is a failure that we respond to correctly: by finding the good, taking responsibility, moving on, and taking action.  How do you respond to failure?”

Snatching Success from the Jaws of Failure

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston Churchill

Neuroscientist Tali Sharot observes, “To make progress, we need to be able to imagine alternative realities – better ones – and we need to believe that we can achieve them. Such faith helps motivate us to pursue our goals.  Optimists, in general, work longer hours and tend to earn more. “… Even if that better future is often an illusion, optimism has clear benefits in the present.  Hope keeps our minds at ease, lowers stress, and improves physical health.”(1)

The Optimistic Executive Will:

  1. Ask What Needs To Be Done Now?

The pessimist will ask what’s going to happen next?  The optimist prioritizes responsibilities.  To be successful, you must know where you stand, what you’re facing, what you and your team are capable of, informative productive meetings will answer these questions before moving forward.

  1. P.L.A.N. H.E.A.D.

Optimistic people are proactive, not reactive.  Preparation gives you the advantage of being in the game before it begins.  John C. Maxwell utilizes an excellent tool using the acronym “P.L.A.N. A.H.E.A.D.”

Predetermine a course of action. Layout your goals. Adjust your priorities. Notify key personnel. Allow time for acceptance. Head into action. Expect problems. Always point to the successes. Daily review your plan. (2)

  1. Assume Responsibility For Their Decisions And Actions

Someone needs to be responsible for the decisions and actions of the organization or team. The optimistic executive will see to it that:

  1. The plan is clearly communicated to all necessary personnel.

  2. New challenges or opportunities are examined and addressed.

  3. The team receives praise for the wins.

“Optimism is essential to achievement, and it is also the foundation of courage and true progress.”– Nicholas M. Butler

(1) “The Optimism Bias” by Tali Sharot Pantheon Books (2) “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” The Law of Navigation by John C. Maxwell

*** This article was authored by John Picarello, Chief Leadership Officer at Lions Pride Leadership Co.***

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