Thursday, August 26, 2010

Is Optimism Killing Us?

I’ve noticed an interesting trend lately in many circles, especially in the corporate and government worlds.

If you point out a problem or even acknowledge that a problem exists, then you are a pessimist.

Meanwhile, the things we want to pretend aren’t happening continue to grow in frequency and intensity.

Here are a few examples:

1. Climate change (regardless of the reason).

2. The government and personal credit crisis that is about to explode with as-yet unknown results.

3. Economies built upon ever-increasing spending (that elementary school mathematics can prove is unsustainable).

4. People in developing nations who don’t have access to basic services, including clean water and basic medicine.

5. Corporations executing with questionable or non-existent strategies.

Equally insidious are the people who are trying to convince their management, peers and minions that everything is under control so people shouldn’t ask questions.

When people like me come along, insatiably curious about everything, we are a threat to their peace of mind.  After all, people who don’t accept with blind faith that everything is perfectly under control are a danger to the myth they are trying to impart upon others and a threat to their ego.

That being said, optimism and hope are critical attributes to have.  Without them, it is easy to feel overwhelmed, that we have no chance of surviving that which we are facing.  If we feel overwhelmed, we give up hope and lie down in defeat.

We must always have hope that great, wonderful things are before us.

But until we acknowledge that oftentimes there really are difficult and challenging obstacles that must be overcome first, we will still be smiling with the deer-in-the-headlights look when the thing we pretended wasn’t there runs right over us, whether it be a personal failure, a corporate blunder or a government collapse.

Being a pessimist is not productive on many levels and can be extremely crippling to you and those around you.

Being an uber-optimist is not much better.

I think it is better to be a realist with an optimistic outlook – that it is ok to acknowledge that we have challenges before us but that through intelligent, proactive action, we will overcome it together.

Sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel may actually be a train.  If I deny it’s a train, it will run right over me.

But if I acknowledge it is a train, then I can work to solve the problem and convert the light at the end of the tunnel into a ray of hope.

And that is where optimism and positive thinking work best – as the fuel to help us believe that we WILL overcome our challenges …..

…. whatever they are ……

…. together.

In service and servanthood.


For my Musings-in-a-Minute version of “Is Optimism Killing Us"?”, please click here.

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