Optimism is essential to achievement and it is also the foundation of courage and true progress.-Nicholas Butler
In our last Toastmasters meeting, I gave my Level 2, Speech 1 Understanding Your Leadership Style for my Dynamic Relationships Pathway. To be honest, it was not my favorite project. I never thought of myself as a leader “type” and always thought that leading was something I would learn over time and grow into.
While reading through the project material about the attributes of a successful leader, I stumbled upon a single word that changed my mind about it.
I had been thinking alot about optimism at the time. A few weeks before I was sent an article titled “Why Positivity Matters” about how being optimistic and open-minded can actually improve our health. The article gave ways we could become more optimistic. The sender thought it would be a helpful read for me and they were begrudgingly not wrong, because it really got me thinking!
I did a little more research and what I found should not be too surprising. Almost all the articles said the same things:
- 1. Optimists live longer. They have a higher chance of reaching the age of 85 and older.
- 2. They have better love lives. Optimists tend to work more to improve their relationships and can even help their partners to be more healthy and optimistic.
- 3. They are more successful people who feel optimistic about their careers, are more likely to succeed at work; and, more importantly, be happy with what they do. They shake off bad outcomes easier and look to the future.
When you think of any great and successful leader, they are typically optimistic. They see the best for the future and are always looking for ways to improve the world around them. Optimistic leaders inspire others and stay positive in the face of difficulty. They are confident in the decisions they make because they look at the best possible outcomes.
Confidence and optimism typically go hand in hand.
All of this seems so obvious, so why isn’t everyone an optimist? I can’t speak for everyone but for me, I am a pessimist because it feels safe. If I look at all the things that could go wrong, then I can be prepared for them.
But wait. I am happy with my life and the decisions I have made, not to mention I am doing pretty well.
Could being optimistic really be better? Could it really improve my life?
Then I came to the realization that I am sure many have had, yes it is better. I realized that when I was optimistic about a big decision I made. The outcomes of those decisions tended to work out one way or another. I may only just be remembering the times it worked out, and I possibly have a choice-supportive bias. But being an optimist doesn’t really seem all that bad!
I decided to start to be more optimistic. I mean why not what’s the worst that could happen?
I started to stop the negative talk and self pity, focus more on the positives; and, lastly, I started to give myself more credit. I always say I am lucky and that my success comes from dump luck but luck is just when opportunity meets effort.
I stand by what I said in the beginning. Leading for me is something that would take time for me to grow into, but maybe if I change my perception of things and become more optimistic in my decisions, maybe I can grow a bit faster.
-Written by Samantha Jamwal, Treasurer of Women L.E.A.D. Toastmasters