Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence. - Hellen Keller
When I began Arrington Coaching, I was transitioning from a decade long career. I thought about getting a job, but I knew that wasn’t for me. I needed the freedom and autonomy that only entrepreneurship could provide. My wife and I talked about it and prayed about it and we decided, put a plan together and bet on us. That’s a decision I will never regret. This leg of our journey began with an unfaltering optimism that doors would open, that we could secure new clients, and ultimately that we could make this work. And it is working.
In the fifth installment of our keys to success series, we look at one of the most critical elements to success, your mindset. Positive thinking and an unfaltering optimism are essential to pushing through the obstacles that will inevitably confront you as you try to do something new.
Do you remember when you were little? When you believed anything was possible? When you wanted to be an astronaut, or a fireman (or firewoman), or a police officer, or a cowboy, or a famous athlete? You didn’t believe in obstacles, you believed in possibility and more importantly, you believed in you.
When I'm working with clients one of the first things I try to help them understand is that they are in control. They get to choose how they respond to unexpected delays, recalcitrant team members, and the like. Positive thinking alone cannot solve your problems but it can put you in a problem-solving mindset. Your thoughts determine your actions and those actions shape your outcomes.
When things seem at their darkest and it appears the world is conspiring to derail your plans, that is when an unabashed optimism can be your saving grace. Controlling your thoughts and reactions will prove to be a strategic advantage that will help you to stay focused on the destination and not be distracted by the current situation.
Pessimism has its place and is considered a virtue by many. For many pessimism becomes a smoke screen used to alleviate the necessity of delivering results. Being able to see all the reasons something will fail is only half of the equation. Once you've identified the obstacles you need solutions. And that's where optimism and positive thinking are most needed.
Success in business and life will often require you to believe in your dreams, your vision, and your future when others can’t and when it appears you shouldn’t.
Let's look at four ways you can strengthen your optimistic side.
What I'm working with clients and we inescapably hit a wall and they are struggling to identify any feasible solution, it's easy to acknowledge defeat. I prefer to ask them to give me three solutions to the problem. This process starts slowly, but it eventually leads to outstanding ideas that open the door to opportunity and possibility.
You Get to Choose!
We get to choose whether we see the glass as half-full or half-empty. We get to choose our worldview and mindset. So, which would you choose? You must decide to think positively even when things are not going to plan. Resilience is born in the moments when circumstances force us to choose who we will become.
In every situation, you have a choice. You can choose to lament the difficulty or identify the opportunity. You can choose to see the dark cloud or the silver lining. You are in control. You get to choose. So, choose to see the silver lining. Today is not the day that you throw in the towel.
Shut down the inner pessimist
Identify and shut down the inner pessimist that can give you 1000 reasons why something will work but not one reason why it can work. This little voice will sound like the voice of reason but often it is just fear making a solid argument against change. For all of its wisdom pessimism is not the vehicle for creating positive change.
Breathe in optimism
You are what you surround yourself with. If you surround yourself with people that celebrate pessimism, you'll naturally and be more pessimistic. If you surround yourself with optimism, you will become more optimistic. Understand that your difficulties are not yours alone others have gone before you and succeeded in situations direr than yours.
Read books that highlight success stories, that motivate you to keep pushing forward. What Makes the Great Great, is one of my favorite inspirational reads. Social media is a great place to find inspiration. You can create or cultivate the positive messages that will keep you going. Follow people who are going to help you to remain positive. Here are some I recommend:
Today is the day you choose hope over fear, opportunity over doubt, and optimism over pessimism. Regardless of external eventualities, you are in control of your mindset. Today, rekindle the optimism of your youth and believe you can rock the world. Remember the choice is and has always been, yours.