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As Delta Derails Plans, Leaders Must Double-Down On Unbounded Optimism

By News Creatives Authors , in Leadership , at August 12, 2021

As headlines raise the alarm on Delta and other variants of variants, many well laid plans are being disrupted… again.

I know I’m not the only one feeling some disappointment.  After all, disappointment is a natural emotion when reality falls short of expectations. 

Yet it’s in times like this when it is most easy to succumb to pessimism or gloom that we most need to hold on to optimism and hope.  And if you’re in a leadership role – where you have a responsibility to create the conditions for others to thrive and do their best work – it’s essential. As a multi-year study of Genesis Health System found, it is precisely in the midst of a setback or challenging time, that leaders should be actively encouraging positivity in order to help teams weather the storm.

Of course, choosing to show up with unbounded optimism doesn’t guarantee that everything is going to get better (at least not on the timeline you’d like.)Nor does it deny hard realities. But while choosing to adopt an optimistic outlook cannot always improve the odds, a lack of it definitely lowers them.

MORE FROM FORBESWhy Your Company Needs Brave People. Lots Of Them.

Choosing to cultivate hope and optimism in the people around you – in your team, business and wider organization – shifts the attention away from what is wrong or the doors that have closed, onto what is right and those which remained to be opened. Or built.  

The value of optimism is based on the premise that what we focus on expands. It’s a natural law that energy (expressed in creativity, resourcefulness, ingenuity, and inventiveness) flows where our attention goes. Unsurprising, research that finds that when we focus on the negative – what is lost, missing, wrong or outside our control – it not only reduces are cognitive function – impairing our ability to come up with more creative ways of solving the pressing problems at hand and to identify opportunities hidden from plain sight – but it also reduces our peripheral vision. Evidence that our mindset isn’t just impacting our psychologic but also our physiology.

Cultivating optimism in others begins by cultivating it in yourself. After all, emotions are contagious and while your words matter, if you aren’t grounded in self-certainty, embodying the emotions you’re trying to instill in others – positivity, purpose, courage, confidence, aspiration – your words will fall flat. 

To quote Winston Churchill:

“Before you can inspire with emotion, you must be swamped with it yourself. Before you can move their tears, your own must flow. To convince them, you yourself must first believe.” 

Leadership extends from the inside out. As such, our ability to lead others begins with how well we lead ourselves. So if you want to improve your team or business, begin by looking inside yourself – regularly investing time to get fully ‘on purpose’ in what you’re committed to as a leader and to ‘swamp yourself’ with the optimism, passion, purposefulness and courage you want to inspire in others. You can’t do that if you’re swimming in a story that’s fueling fear and any form of negativity. 

As I’ve written before, you lead first and foremost by virtue of who you are being, not what you doing or saying.

So who are you being right now? And what emotions are you engendering in those around you. 

Let go disappointment but retain your hope. 

Acknowledge your doubts, but don’t let them direct your decision making. 

Optimists and pessimists weather the same storms. But optimists weather them better and emerge better off. 

So too do enterprises who are led by leaders who embody the belief that every adversity, every derailed plans and closed door holds the seeds of an equal or greater benefit. 

Be that leader. 

A leader who sew seeds for post pandemic growth.

A leader who instills optimism amid disappointment 

A leader who cultivates courage amid uncertainty. 

A leader who rallies people to pull together behind a shared sense of purpose. 

Because right now, there are people looking to you to do just that.

Margie Warrell is a bestselling author and keynote speaker on leadership, courage and unlocking potential in individuals and enterprises. Her latest release is Stop Playing Safe: How to be braver in work, leadership and life.


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