It’s almost too easy for things to be hard.
There is often a safety in thinking something is too difficult – if we don’t begin to do it, or we don’t put ourselves out there again, surely we are more likely to be safe?
That’s the end game isn’t it? To be safe so we can protect others and keep them safe, right?
Sometimes we become so focused on keeping ourselves safe, and nicely protected from any sort of challenge, we convince ourselves the best course of action to take is inaction. We stop seeing the opportunities around us.
Earlier this week I watched this happen in a way that wasn’t surprising, given the time of year for schools around Australia.
While working with staff recently, we were aware of how taxing the term has been – we are in middle of The Dead Zone: reports are being written, assessments corrected, assessments analysed, assessments assessed…all while juggling the usual string of planning, preparing, learning, supporting and teaching the students in our care (yes, surprisingly, this still has to occur during this time).
To put it mildly: staff were exhausted. (Understandably so).
The aim of the meeting wasn’t to simply have another meeting. It was to provide an opportunity for them to recognise and celebrate the amazing things teachers do individually, as well as in their year level teams. The focus was on identifying any form of success and tapping into that bloody great feeling you get when you’ve done something well…and then share it with others.
Everyone had had time to think and jot down things they were/are proud of, we all moved into smaller groups and shared our individual and group successes.
We were all unleashing our inner superpower: Optimism.
Until a group was faced with someone who just wasn’t ready to embrace their inner superpower – they felt that they couldn’t identify any examples of success from their year level. There was no internal reflection to undertake nor any successes to share.
They allowed inaction to become their action.
Which would have been a perfect time for Oprah to stroll in and join us…
YOU GET SOME OPTIMISM! YOU GET SOME OPTIMISM!
YOU GET SOME TOO!
EVERYBODY GETS SOME OPTIMISM!!!
Optimism is fantastic.
Optimism allows you to see opportunities where you may not have seen anything at first. It provides you with the scope to not only cope or deal with tough situations, but to actually thrive on them.
Optimism isn’t simply sitting back and thinking good things will just happen. Optimism is an attitude that affects how you see the world*.
Yes, it is about positive outlooks, but it isn’t just good intentions.
You also need a willingness to take action, develop your skill sets and an attitude that difficult situations hold opportunities (plus a little bit of luck or good timing).
Consider the challenges you have faced, some may not have appeared to provide you with any opportunity. Think of a challenge where nothing seemed to come out of it. The overall risk, lack of skills or timing may have prevented you from succeeding – you missed an opportunity.
Now stop and think about the overall experience and failure.
How do you see it?
Can you use it to help improve you for the next challenge?
That’s what optimists do.
Even the idea of luck can be shaped by optimism too. Unexpected events and random occurrences will happen**. If you accept and use this view, you are more likely to be able to respond to these situations and use them in a positive way…
I’ll let the expert, Jim Bright, take over here (skip to 1:34 if you are impatient)
Optimism is about learning from mistakes too, because, you will make them. All the time. So why not use them as a positive experience than simply as a tool to tell yourself off?
Two people go into an exam, one holds an optimistic attitude, while the other one is slightly pessimistic. The optimistic person bombs out of the exam, while the pessimistic one does well. Who feels better?
Well, right after getting results there is no surprise that the pessimistic person does, but not long after things change.
The Pessimist does something interesting – they begin to doubt the difficulty of the exam, the value of their mark and begin to think that next time they might not be so lucky. They have no control of their future.
The Optimist is a little bit different. The optimist is bummed out. Yep, failing sucks. Where did they go wrong? Probably going out over the last two weekends and partying didn’t help. Missing those classes wasn’t the best idea…and the exam was a little harder than expected. The Optimist sees a potential opportunity in the future: prioritising time, putting in more effort and actually being present will make the next exam easier. They have taken control of some aspects of a potential future.
It’s about seeing all the stuff out there in the chaos and being able to find the worthwhile things that could help you***.
Optimism is about learning from mistakes, seeing the potential and adapting how you do things. We learn from doing or not doing.
Which is another way of saying our education is living, right?
So, if we learn from doing (and education is simply living) then are you actually living if you aren’t learning or doing?
Start upgrading that attitude and see difficulties for what they are – opportunities.
After all, optimism is about doing. Optimism is about living.
Be a Liver.
I’m a Human Liver, what about you?
Enjoyed this upgrade? Share our post on all things social media and be a true 21st century citizen!
If you think it is worth it, please pass it onto friends, family or even strangers…if the situation feels right!
*A current view is that optimism is shaped by your environment, as well as your genetics
**Check out the really interesting book by Jim Bright and Robert Pryor,”The Chaos Theory of Careers: A new perspective of working in the 21st century” (or else watch his video above again!)
***People suffering from depression, anxiety and other similar conditions have to fight harder at times for this, but they can still get there
- Martin Seligman – Father of Positive Psychology explaining the secrets to a meaningful life
2. Nicholas Nassim Taleb’s Antifragile: Things that gain from disorder
3. Jim Bright & Robert Pryor – The Chaos Theory of Careers: A new perspective of working in the 21st century