By nature, I am a very optimistic person. It’s what made me a very confident basketball player, helped me ask out my first girlfriend, and convinced me I could major in history even though I wasn’t the fastest reader around. As we’ve built Primitive Social, however, I’ve had to work with all kinds of people with varying levels of optimism and pessimism.
While I’m really grateful for the balance that comes from working with people who aren’t exactly like me, I do think there is value in having a leader who is optimistic and hopeful. Even if you aren’t naturally optimistic, there are things that you can do to cultivate optimism as you lead your team.
By intentionally cultivating optimism in my life, it bleeds over into the workplace. Some of the ways I do that can be found below.
It’s important to know yourself and understand what fuels your energy and creativity. I find myself more refreshed and hopeful when I spend time getting away from work and stress (preferably to the mountains), dreaming about possibilities for my team, creating audacious goals, and spending time trail running.
It’s tempting to believe that you can grind through rough seasons, but it’s far more productive to identify things that keep you optimistic, and then make time to do those things.
Create a Plan, and Keep It:
Making a plan might not be the first thing you think of on this topic, but it has been very valuable in helping me maintain and cultivate optimism. Creating a plan is basically saying that you believe the difficult is actually possible.
I mentioned above that dreaming and creating audacious goals is something that fuels hope and creativity for me. I love challenges, and it’s a really powerful thing to tackle a goal that requires grit and determination. One of the great things about creating a plan to achieve a goal that is bold and audacious is that you build confidence as you accomplish each step of the plan. Training to run a marathon seems pretty daunting. But as you hit 10 miles, then 15, then 20, you grow more and more confident about your ability to finish the race.
Don’t Do it Alone:
Something that has helped me stay optimistic in my work has been to hire a coach. A coach is able to provide guidance and direction that keeps me and our team moving in a positive direction, even when things are difficult. A coach is also able to draw on an outside perspective and past experiences that help remind me to find the good, even in difficult situations.
I think good leaders are going to have a wide range of outlooks and tendencies: caution, optimism, practicality...and more. But I do think knowing how to cultivate optimism in yourself and your team is valued in maintaining a culture that is committed to doing good work and forward momentum in every season.
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