13 Sep 2009
First let’s get one thing straight – happiness and optimism are not the same thing. Happiness is an emotion, a feeling, a state of mind that can be changed in an instant. Optimism is something quite different – it is a belief about the future.
Optimists trust that the future will be mostly good – they also believe their decisions, choices and actions shape their destinies. There is evidence to suggest that optimists tend to have better coping mechanisms and tend to be less negatively impacted but life’s little ups and downs. They recover faster, tend to eat right and exercise, are less likely to smoke, suffer less from aches and pains and are at a much lower risk for dementia and other diseases.
07 Sep 2009
I was reminded of this brilliant principle last week when I spoke to one of my business coaching clients. There can be no doubt that we are living in interesting times…. the global financial crisis has impacted overall spending and consumer sentiment – and this has hurt many small businesses around the country. It’s no good hoping that circumstances will change – in order to survive we all need to dig deep and find creative ways to work smarter not harder.
Jim Collins, in his book, “Good to Great,” talks about this very interesting paradox that he calls “The Stockdale Principle”. According to Collins, “you have to be realistic about your current situation and yet, stay optimistic about the future”.
General Stockdale was the highest ranking American prisoner of war in Hanoi, Vietnam. Over the years he began to notice an interesting phenomenon – optimism could in fact be a liability. His fellow prisoners (who were the eternal optimists) constantly set themselves up for disappointment. They set huge milestones – “we will be rescued by Christmas” – but those milestones came and went year after year and with it… their will to live.