Optimize Your Optimism

The ABC’s of Professionalism

Do you remember Winnie the Pooh’s friends Tigger and Eeyore? These characters could be used to teach a seminar on optimism and pessimism.

“It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily.
“So it is.”
“And freezing.”
“Is it?”
“Yes,” said Eeyore. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.”

— A.A. Milne (1882-1956), “The House at Pooh Corner”, p. 11.

Tigger: Come on, Rabbit. Let’s you and me bounce.
Rabbit: Good heavens! Me bounce?
Tigger: Why, certainly! Look, you’ve got the feet for it.
Rabbit: I have?
Tigger: Sure. Come on, try it. It makes ya feel just grrreat!

— Walt Disney’s “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” (animated film), 1977.

Probably the most familiar description of optimism is a comparison to its opposite using a glass that is half full of water. To the optimist it is half full – the pessimist sees it as half empty. Some hold a different understanding of these terms.

“We have been taught to believe that negative equals realistic and positive equals unrealistic.” — Susan Jeffers

If so, how can the very same glass be unrealistic to one and realistic to another? They are both the same glass of water. The view Jeffers describes could only originate from someone with the mindset that we live in a world where outcomes are generally unfavorable.

“The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true.” — James Branch Cabell (1879-1958), The Silver Stallion, 1926

By the way, what causes pessimists to think they need to “save” the optimists?

“An optimist may see a light where there is none, but why must the pessimist always run to blow it out? — Rene Descartes

An optimist, coming from a different emotional universe, has a more positive perspective. Good or bad, he makes the best of every situation and is more productive and happier because of it.

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” — Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

“I will say this about being an optimist– even when things don’t turn out well, you are certain they will get better.” — Frank Hughes

“All the days of the afflicted are evil, But he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast.” — Bible, Proverbs 15:15

The current downturn and volatility of the stock market along with other economic uncertainty has many people stirred up to the point of panic. Not so with one of my optimistic friends who admitted to being behind in his long-term investment goals. He correctly recognized this situation for what it is – a HUGE opportunity to catch up. Stocks-based investments are on sale at 1989 prices!

An optimist goes on an adventure, while the pessimist stays home. Maybe this is a good thing. We need people to “mind the store” while the rest of us are out living life. Great leaders are optimists. Their optimism was not the result of their climb to the top — it was the cause. They go a step further, by their inspiration.

“For myself I am an optimist – it does not seem to be much use being anything else.” — Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965), speech at the Lord Mayor’s banquet, London, November 9, 1954

“The American, by nature, is optimistic. He is experimental, an inventor and a builder who builds best when called upon to build greatly.” — John F. Kennedy (1917-1963)

“I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life … in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.” — Ronald Reagan (1911-2004), Farewell Address, January 11, 1989

How can someone become more optimistic? It starts with a decision. Yes, it is possible to decide today to become more optimistic. Here are five steps to get you started.

1) Take a personal inventory — Write down all of your blessings. Focus only on the positive. If you’re pessimistic, you’ve spent enough time and effort dwelling on the negative. Post your list of blessings on your bathroom mirror, by your bed and other prominent places. Add to your list regularly.

“This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” — Bible, Psalm 118:24

“Praise the LORD! Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” — Psalm 106:1

2) Seek God’s help daily — Develop your new positive attitude through prayer. Give thanks for each item on your list of blessings. Seek forgiveness for your mistakes. Ask God for strength, wisdom and guidance.

“He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.”

— Bible, Isaiah 40:29,31

3) Purge the negative thoughts — Throw away the negative stuff cluttering your mind. Write down your liabilities, barriers and excuses. Then tear them up and burn the pieces – literally! The next time you catch yourself thinking a negative thought, take a moment to remember that purging process.

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” — Bible, Romans 8:31

4) Fill your mind with positive thoughts — Without the negativity there is room for positive thoughts. Make good choices for what you read, listen to, and watch on television. Put driving time to good use — turn your car into a university on wheels. Even if you can’t feel it, your mind is hungry, too. Feed it daily!

“Pity the man who has a favorite restaurant, but not a favorite author.” — Jim Rohn (1930- ), Weekly Ezine, Issue 48 – July 26, 2000

“Before you change your thinking, you have to change what goes into your mind.” — Zig Ziglar (1926- )

5) Reinforce your positive thoughts — Start using positive language. Practice it until it becomes a habit.

Friend: “How’s it going?”
You: “OK, I guess.”

This type of response is no longer acceptable. Only words like good, great, and fabulous are worthy of an optimist.

“Repetition of the same thought or physical action develops into a habit which, repeated frequently enough, becomes an automatic reflex.” — Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993)

Follow the program and you will enjoy the results. Here are some of the things you can expect from your new attitude:

“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” — Willie Nelson (1933- )

“Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.” — Colin Powell (1937- )

“A strong positive mental attitude will create more miracles than any wonder drug.” — Patricia Neal (1926- )

“The positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.” — Anonymous

“An optimist is the human personification of spring.” — Susan J. Bissonette

Have a fabulous day!

God bless,

— CC

[ N=Netiquette | Index | P/Q=P’s and Q’s ]

© Copyright November 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
Read more “Clancy’s Quotes” at: ClancyCross.WordPress.com

Joy Means “Grinning Inside”

[ I=Integrity | Index | K=Kindness ]

Series: The ABC’s of Professionalism

“Jovial: full of joy and happiness; merry”http://www.Dictionary.com

“Joy is the feeling of grinning inside.” — Melba Colgrove

Based on public image, whom would you rather hang out with, Woody Allen or Steve Allen? (Forget for a minute that Steve Allen is dead.) Both made a lot of money, achieved significant fame and are known for the funny things they said. Whom would you choose? (It’s okay to make a quick trip to Wikipedia before answering.)

“My one regret in life is that I am not someone else.” — Woody Allen

“Asthma doesn’t seem to bother me any more unless I’m around cigars or dogs. The thing that would bother me most would be a dog smoking a cigar.” — Steve Allen

If you like being with people who are jovial over people who are sour, then based on public personae, you would have to choose Steve Allen. The alternative, Woody Allen, is the poster child for the sad, lonely and pathetic human being.

In reflecting how joviality is linked to professionalism it becomes apparent that the journey of becoming a professional produces joviality. Joy is the fruit of a positive attitude, good character and other aspects of professionalism. In other words, joy is a personal choice.

“Who decides whether you shall be happy or unhappy?  The  answer — you do!” — Norman Vincent Peale, “The Power of Positive Thinking”

This raises the question, “Can someone who is unprofessional be jovial?” Sure. Joy is not a black and white condition. Joy occurs in shades of gray, reflecting the personal satisfaction someone feels in response to the amount of professionalism he has achieved. If it were possible to measure joy, psychologists might establish a joviality index with theories about how it rises and falls relative to changes in attitude. We would probably learn that the more professional a person is, the less volatile his hypothetical joviality index.

“Don’t aim at success – the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue… as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a course greater than oneself.” — Viktor Frankl, “Man’s Search For Meaning”

The greatest most enduring joy comes from knowing one’s life purpose and living accordingly. To me, purpose is a God thing. So is joy. God intends each of us to have joy and the path to joy begins by discovering His purpose for us. Joy is our reward.

“Someone once said there are two great days in life — the day you were born and the day you discover why.” — John C. Maxwell, “Success” August/September 2008

“In the world to come, I shall not be asked, ‘Why were you not Moses?’ I shall be asked, ‘Why were you not Zusya?'” — Rabbi Zusya

“Our main motivation for living is our will to find meaning in life.” — Viktor Frankl

Now if God intends for us to be joyful and purpose is a precondition of joy, it follows that He must have installed in each of us the ability to discover and the capacity to achieve our intended purpose. In other words, potential accompanies purpose. Therefore, if ‘X’ is your purpose, by definition you have the capacity to fulfill it. More importantly, with potential being granted by God, you have the responsibility to put your gifts to use.

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money. After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.

“So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’

“Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’

“But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.

“For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

— Bible, Matthew 25:14-30

Remembering that joy is an effect, not a cause, it follows that pretending to be jovial and pursuing joy for its own sake are both ill-conceived strategies. That’s not to say that we have no control in the matter. As long as we focus on the causes rather than the effect, there is much we can do. It’s the little things we do everyday that produce fertile soil capable of sowing and sustaining joviality. We choose our friends, television shows and movies, books and music as well as the places we go and ways we spend our time and money. Collectively, these seemingly trivial choices affect our professionalism level leading to changes in our joviality index.

“Our happiness depends on the habit of mind we cultivate. So practice happy thinking every day. Cultivate the merry heart, develop the happiness habit, and life will become a continual feast.” — Norman Vincent Peale

“Nothing on earth is so well-suited to make the sad merry, the merry sad, to give courage to the despairing, to make the proud humble, to lessen envy and hate, as music” — Martin Luther

“The excursion is the same when you go looking for your sorrow as when you go looking for your joy.” — Eudora Welty

In pondering life’s choices, it’s critically important to differentiate between pleasure and joy — they are not the same. “Looking for joy in all the wrong places” is a character flaw and contrary to the definition of professionalism.

“Joy comes from using your potential.” — Will Schultz

“I sometimes wonder whether all pleasures are not substitutes for joy.” — C.S. Lewis

“One of the sanest, surest, and most generous joys of life comes from being happy over the good fortune of others.” — Robert A. Heinlein

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” — Bible, James 1:2-3

“Joy is not in things; it is in us” — Richard Wagner

“A joy shared is a joy doubled” –- Unknown

“I can think of nothing less pleasurable than a life devoted to pleasure.” — John D. Rockefeller

Professionalism is defined internally by our attitudes and externally by our actions. To the extent that they move in a positive direction joy tends to increase and the joviality index become less volatile. What hasn’t been mentioned, but is probably intuitive is that this is neither quick nor easy.  Achieving professionalism is a lifelong, challenging endeavor.

“We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them.” — Kahlil Gibran

God bless,

— CC

[ I=Integrity | Index | K=Kindness ]

© Copyright October 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
Read more “Clancy’s Quotes” at: ClancyCross.WordPress.com

The Heart of It All

[ G=Grace | Index | I=Integrity ]

Series: The ABC’s of Professionalism

Saying that a certain competitor “has heart” makes one guilty of using a worn-out sports cliché. Yet, what better words are there in the case of someone like Brett Favre? In a different context, people say the same about the late Mother Teresa. With their countless differences, it might seem ridiculous to compare the two. Still, I’m willing to dabble in the ridiculous because they both “have heart.”

Passion

Both of these people became renowned for their accomplishments and I’d wager that neither was driven by the desire to achieve fame. They were ordinary individuals each with an extraordinary passion for something much bigger. Notoriety was simply the by-product.

“There is no passion to be found playing small, in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living” — Nelson Mandela

Ordinary people get excited all the time about one thing or another. But, when the novelty wears away or the going gets tough, they’re finished until the next exciting “thing” comes along. The reason for their fickle behavior is often a misplaced passion. An ordinary person becomes extraordinary when he has vision beyond himself.

“Fame is a fickle food – Upon a shifting plate” — Emily Dickinson

Pleasure in wealth is a fickle joy” — Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy

“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” — Bible, Matthew 6:21

Whether or not they thought about it, Brett Favre and Mother Teresa are/were in the people-building business. Their success came in direct proportion to their ability to help others reach their potential.  Building up others requires looking beyond outward appearance and reputation to find their heart, to understand what the person is passionate about and the source of that passion.

“But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’” — Bible, 1 Samuel 16:7

If a person’s “why” (i.e. purpose) isn’t big enough, chances are high that his passion is temporary. However, if a bond can be identified or established between personal interests and something much bigger, success is a worthy bet.

“The mind is fickle like a fast galloping horse and the only way to control him is by involving him in good actions beneficial for the welfare of all. The person who does so shall achieve success and peace.” — Rig Veda

Love, desperation, fear and similar emotions can cause anyone to develop a mountain-moving heart. When someone taps into the energy source of his passion he needs very little push to get started.

“Throw your heart over the fence and the rest will follow.” — Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993)

“Desire creates the power.” — Raymond Holliwell

Brett Favre produced touchdown highlights with long passes, but most of the scores he led came about a few yards at a time. Mother Teresa also had a “one-small-step-at-a-time” approach.

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” — Mother Teresa

“In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.” -– Mother Teresa

Where there is passion, there is desire. Where there is desire, there is persistence. Where there is persistence, there is success.

“Dwell not upon thy weariness, thy strength shall be according to the measure of thy desire.” — Arab Proverb

“I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.” — Vince Lombardi (1913-1970)

Except for Brett Favre’s family and possibly his faith, the evidence would seem to indicate that he is driven primarily by an intense passion for football. It’s not money and it’s not fame. Think of how Brett Favre the kid appears after every score and every victory. (I enjoy watching a Favre celebration as much as the touchdown.) If money was the source of his passion he would not have spent most of his career in Green Bay when more bucks were certainly available in bigger markets. Just old-fashioned love of a game. How quaint, how refreshing!

“Well family is obviously the most important. There was a time when I thought football was the most important.” — Brett Favre

Compassion

If one’s source of passion involves personal sacrifice to help others, the concept of “having heart” has an added dimension. Mother Teresa’s desire to serve sick and starving people originates from the passions she has for God.

“I try to give to the poor people for love what the rich could get for money. No, I wouldn’t touch a leper for a thousand pounds; yet I willingly cure him for the love of God.” — Mother Teresa

The “size” of a person’s heart and the direction it points varies from person to person. Yet, I think it’s accurate to say that all professionals have heart. Talent alone does not make a professional.

“…effective leadership starts on the inside; it is a heart issue.” — Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges, “Lead Like Jesus”

“In a full heart there is room for everything, and in an empty heart there is room for nothing.” — Antonio Porchia, Voices

To become a professional one must develop and grow his heart for the benefit of other people. This includes the hopes and dreams as well as the pain and struggles.

“A good exercise for the heart is to bend down and help another up.” — Anonymous

“A mature adult realizes that life is about what you give rather than what you get.” — Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges, “Lead Like Jesus”

“Ask yourself: Have you been kind today? Make kindness your daily modus operandi and change your world.” — Annie Lennox

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches, but to reveal to him his own.” — Benjamin Disraeli

Someone with a “small heart” can still achieve success, but he probably won’t excel. Talent alone only goes so far. Getting to the top takes lots of heart. Those who have it leave an indelible mark on the world in part because of what they say, but mostly because of what they do.

“Remember, people will judge you by your actions, not your intentions. You may have a heart of gold — but so does a hard-boiled egg.” — Unknown

God bless,

— CC

[ G=Grace | Index | I=Integrity ]

© Copyright September 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
Read more “Clancy’s Quotes” at: ClancyCross.WordPress.com