Active Optimism

A Pessimist walks into the barn, steps in manure and says “There goes a good pair of boots!”

An Optimist walks into the barn, steps in manure and says “Where’s the pony?”

The same events happen to all people – good, bad and indifferent. People just don’t realize how much they shape their own experience. Your attitude really does change everything. It not only tints your experience; it dictates the decisions you make next, that have a very direct impact on your future.

A perfect example is company “reorgs” – where lots of employees get shifted around from department to department. It’s very uncertain; with people getting half the picture, if at all. They’re left to fill in the blanks with their own imagination.

This is where I see the biggest difference between Pessimists and Optimists. The Pessimists paint the whole world with doom-and-gloom, and resign themselves to the “way it is.” They say things like “we have no choice” and “it’s only going to get worse.”

Optimists, on the other hand, are seen as naive, hopeless and hapless… at least by the Pessimists (who by this point are labeling themselves the “Realists”). What the Pessimists often miss are the subtle differences between the Passive Optimists and the Active Optimists.

Passive Optimists are the “hope for the best crowd” that often prove the Pessimists right. The Active Optimists, on the other hand, are the ones that can really take advantage of change — in the office and everywhere. Here’s some qualities of the Active Optimist:

  • Not afraid of change
  • Sees opportunities in every move
  • Doesn’t let negative events stop them
  • Doesn’t sit by and wait to be victimized
  • If they don’t see an opportunity, they seek one
  • They stay proactive, not reactive
  • Does what they can to keep the spirits up of those around them
  • Gets up one time more than they are knocked down

Opportunities don’t often come to those that just sit there. By being Active, the Optimist takes actual steps that could lead to advancement. By staying positive, they also have an effect on others that the Pessimists don’t. That alone can make all the difference in the world.

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