Pollyanna was Right

It has been a tough year. Heck it has been a tough half decade or so. In fact I don’t know about you, but I feel like we’ve been pushing pretty hard for the last 15 years since lean got hot. It doesn’t matter how we feel. As innovators our job is to be doggedly optimistic. Pessimism is dangerous to the innovation process. The emotion of pessimism is not helpful even in the face of a pessimistic reality. Realism is different from pessimism. Innovators know better than anyone how to be realistic and optimistic at the same time. Have you ever said, “Our goal is to fail early and fail often”?

As you float on your sea of failure grasping for that occasional ripple of success, we offer an explanation of why some can catch the ripple making it a wave and others miss the opportunity. Why some float and others sink is conceptually simple and operationally complex.  Pollyanna was unconditionally optimistic. She had the right idea— managers who are optimistic succeed more often than managers who are not.

What can you do for yourself and for others?

A lawyer friend of mine, now a Senior Director of Training and Development, shared her strategy for staying positive. She said, “My mother told me to smile in the morning, regardless of how lousy or difficult the day looks.  By the time I have made it through my morning ritual with this stupid grin on my face, I feel better.  I’m ready to handle the worst the world can dish out with a sense of humor.”  Her “stupid grin” prepares her to cope.  Coping is the ability to execute key tasks even when you don’t feel like it.  We call this optimism—looking for the silver lining and, if no silver lining can be found, then at least a piece of humor, just like Pollyanna.  Here are some beginning ideas that help me.

  • Accept responsibility for happiness in a small corner of your world.  Commit an act of unreasoned kindness.
  • “Pain plus time equal humor.” – Lenny Bruce. Get good at laughing at … you.
  • Get out of your office. Participate in professional gatherings. Write an article.
  • Take a minute to mediate, to think, to be alone.  Sit in your car for an extra 30 seconds and focus yourself.
  • Forgive the trespassers who trespass against you.  You have bigger fish to fry.  Don’t fight in a burning house.
  • Fill your world with toys, happy face buttons, puppy dogs and fluffy kitty cats.  There are no grown-ups.  We are all pretending.
  • Eat right; exercise every day, don’t stay up for Leno, (well maybe just the monologue).
  • If you can’t sleep, get up.  Build a business plan for you and your network.  Innovation Focus has been built on plans made between 2:30 and 4:30 a.m.; or get in a workout!
  • Dreams come true for those who work while they dream.  Put energy into your long-term development plan.

Original article ©1994 Innovation Focus Inc. Edited ©2012 Innovation Focus Inc.

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