Some people are optimists and others are pessimists, but optimism isn’t an accident—it’s a skill that can be learned. It’s one that can help us feel better and greatly improve our lives and business because if we’re not positive, how can we expect our clients to be?
On that note, if we could grade life, what grade would you give your life?
Let’s take “Bob” and “Sue” for example. They face pretty much the same struggles but the grade they give themselves is totally different.
Bob gives himself an “F” because lately his work has been really stressful, his closest colleague just left the company, Bob was transferred to another department, and he hates himself he’s carrying around an extra 50 pounds.
Bob feels hopeless and his life seems depressing and dark. Every setback reinforces his feelings of pessimism and certain that nothing ever gets better.
Now, let’s take a look at Sue who has many of the same struggles. Sue’s husband lost his job seven months after their first child was born. In addition to her full-time job, she’s responsible for her elderly mother, who is becomingly increasingly frail and to make things worse, her company has just announced a restructuring that may result in cutting staff in half.
Despite all that’s going on in Sue’s life, she gives herself a strong B+ and knows there are some A+ days ahead!
Unlike the Bob, Sue sees her setbacks as temporary obstacles to overcome—to her, crises are part of life and opportunities to gain in wisdom and courage.
Martin Seligman, Ph.D. and best-selling author of How to Change Your Mind and Your Life, states that pessimistic thinking can undermine not just our behavior but also our success in all areas of our lives. “Pessimism is escapable,” he writes. “Pessimists can learn to be optimists.”
Optimism isn’t just a feel-good strategy. When we focus our attention on our natural character strengths (wisdom, courage, compassion) rather than our perceived failures and what we don’t have, we not only boost our moods, but our immune system and success levels too. Research has shown that optimistic people tend to be healthier and experience more success in life.
To adjust our lives–and the challenges we face—we must first recognize what we say to ourselves when we experience a setback. By breaking what Seligman calls the “I give up” pattern of thinking and changing our negative thinking or mindset, we can encourage optimism.
So… work on making optimism one of your business skills if it isn’t already.