Imagine being a pessimist and being a leader.
How can you lead people, or yourself, to success if failure is always in view.
That isn’t to say that leaders might not be realistic, but it would be difficult to find success if you never can see it.
Gregg Steinberg, professor of human performace at Austin Peay State University, uses the example of Diana Nyad, who swam from Cuba to Florida in September 2013, after several tries. Nyad had been trying to complete the swim since 1978. She faced obstacles like stinging jellyfish and other occurrences, but on her fifth try, everything was finally in place to ward off failure and she completed the swim.
Steinberg wrote about Nyad and optimism in the Sept. 29,2013, edition of the Tennessean newspaper in Nashville.
He says that even people who are natural pessimists can succeed by changing their view of failure. He talks about the TUF strategy, in which failure is viewed as temporary, unique and flexible. He says people who long for success must have internal dialogue that describes failure as TUF. It’s temporary, meaning today was not the day. Tomorrow we have another chance. Unique, because each situation is unique and a better situation will arise tomorrow. Today’s attempt was a strikeout, but there’s another turn at bat tomorrow. People talk within themselves about flexibility, because one or two tweaks in strategy may change the results.
All successful people have known failure. They’ve come to accept it as part of the journey. But they are always optimistic that failure today could become success tomorrow.
In recent years, it seems many of us are surrounded by failure. A good job may be gone. Our mortgage debt may have turned from manageable to underwater, with no action by us. The idea of getting a job, or working for a company for life has all but disappeared.
We see previous generations, now retired, who’ve never experienced this. They may or may not be able to help us. It’s not that we’re lazy. It’s just that our comfort zone has gotten very prickly.
What to do? First, as Steinberg suggests, maintain your optimism. If that’s not natural for you, try to change the inner dialogue you have with yourself. Sure, optimism isn’t going to give you a paycheck tomorrow, and it may not cover your underwater mortgage, but it will help you believe that there is something better out there awaiting you.
It may be a great job that you had never envisioned doing. It may be that person you had just met, who will become meaningful in your life. It may be something totally unexpected. But if you never believe good things will come, they may show up and you won’t recognize them. Your ship may come in, but if you don’t see it, you’ll miss the boat.
You also have to look at things that may be outside your comfort zone. For one such thing, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. It may not be your ship, but you won’t know unless you go to the dock to check it out.
Regardless, optimism and a positive attitude is the one thing you can do for yourself, despite your circumstances. Look at your life so far, and see where you are. Take stock about what’s good in your life. Be thankful for those blessings. Then, see about fixing what’s wrong. You may need some help, but don’t EXPECT help. Ships will come and go, but check out every one. A certain one may have your ticket to success.
Stay focused and positive. Be optimistic. Remember, employers are looking for people who have a genuinely good outlook on life. That may be the key to you landing that great opportunity.
Be optimistic that your ship is waiting.

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