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

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

Imagine That!

Some people face difficulty and ask, “Why me?” Others ask, “What if …?” What is the difference? What separates the complainers from the rest? Part of the answer lies in attitude. It’s the old optimist vs. pessimist comparison. But, there is a second differentiator. These others have learned to listen and see with their imaginations.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge…” — Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)

“To know is nothing at all; to imagine is everything.” — Anatole France (1844 – 1924)

[Here’s a quick side trip to poke a little fun at my friends who are engaged in politics. 😉 ] There are also those skilled at inventing or discovering problems. I’m sure it is mere coincidence that these same people just happen to have a solution for these terrible problems the rest of us knew nothing about. (Is there an emoticon for sarcasm?)

“We may not imagine how our lives could be more frustrating and complex–but Congress can.” — Cullen Hightower

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy.” — Ernest Benn

Imagination produces ideas, the seeds of change. Granted not all change is necessary or good. That’s why we have the editorial page and the marketplace – to help separate the good ideas from the bad ones. I wonder how much greater America could become if idle imaginations were turned up a notch or two.

“Our imagination is the only limit to what we can hope to have in the future.” — Charles F. Kettering

The rising cost of oil is a challenge as well as an opportunity perfectly suited for our imaginations. While some are whining and demanding government action, others are busy solving the problem for themselves by driving less or changing to a more efficient vehicle. Then, there are the imaginative folks who are working behind the scenes to solve the problem for many.

“Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.” — George Bernard Shaw

What will the result be? Innovation! I’m sure we’ve heard rumors about engines that use water for fuel and cars that run 100 miles on a gallon of gas. This so-called “oil crisis” is an opportunity to develop a more efficient car and/or alternative fuel.

Some accuse oil companies of profiting unfairly from the high gas prices. If this is true, there’s another opportunity – buy oil stocks.

What about alternative forms of transportation like mass transit, motorcycles, bicycles, walking, and that two-wheeled, electric, gyroscope-controlled device made by Segway? For those who see and hear with their imaginations, there is no end to the opportunities.

“You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” — Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

Pointing our imaginations in a different direction, “what if” there were a technology that could make some types of travel obsolete? Imagine a technology that enables face-to-face communication without traveling. Such technology exists today in the form of a VoIP video phone. “What if” a person or a company got the word out about this technology and people started using it to for distance learning, business discussions and extra “visits” with grandma?

Rising travel costs might become the stimulus that reinvigorates our neighborhoods. Maybe people will stay home more and we’ll see a renaissance of picnics in the park, neighborhood block parties and folks sitting on the porch sharing a cup of coffee with a neighbor. Could the gas crunch revive the corner market and give a boost to telecommuting and home-based careers?

“To imagine the unimaginable is the highest use of the imagination.” — Cynthia Ozick

“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it.
If you can dream it, you can become it.”

— William Arthur Ward

Every problem is an opportunity. Imagine that!

God bless,

— CC

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

“Chasing the Puck”

I came across a quote that caused me to pause and reflect about the way I’m living my life and conducting my business affairs.

“I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” — Wayne Gretzky

As I tried to put these words into personal context, my mind flashed back to days of watching small kids play soccer. For those who haven’t seen such a sight, imagine a clump of 10-15 kids chasing a soccer ball in a seemingly random fashion. In a game it’s amusing — in life, it’s tragic.

I came to the conclusion that a “chase the puck” approach to life is a major contributing factor to an unsuccessful, stressful, unfulfilled life. The alternative is to make a habit of intercepting the puck. That is, to observe the puck’s speed and direction, choose a spot in the puck’s path, and get to that spot as the puck arrives. If you believe Mr. Gretzky’s quotation is an apt metaphor for life, you might draw the same comparison I did regarding tell-tale signs that someone has been chasing the puck rather than intercepting the puck.

“Chasing The Puck” “Intercepting the Puck”
Dwells on the painful past Envisions and dreams of a better future
Never has enough time Has time enough for what matters most
Lack of money, growing debt Budgets, saves, invests, delays gratification
Bitter about mishaps Thankful for blessings
Reactive – waits for things to happen Proactive – influences what happens
Pessimistic Optimistic
Results: limited success, stress, regrets Results: Abundant success and personal fulfillment

Success Starts With a Dream

“Give me a stock clerk with a goal and I’ll give you a man who will make history. Give me a man with no goals and I’ll give you a stock clerk.” — J.C. Penney

Success is a Daily Decision

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” — Thomas Edison

“This is as true in everyday life as it is in battle: We are given one life, and the decision is ours whether to wait for circumstances to make up our mind or whether to act and, in acting, to live.” — Omar Bradley

“Change before you have to.” — Jack Welch

Success Requires the Proper Mindset

“Either do or do not; there is no try.” — George Lucas

“I’ve never been poor, only broke. Being poor is a frame of mind. Being broke is only a temporary situation.” — Mike Todd

“Achievement is largely the product of steadily raising one’s levels of aspiration and expectation.” — Jack Nicklaus

Success Requires Knowledge

“In a time of drastic change, it is the learners who inherit the future.” — Eric Hoffer

“Instead of waiting for someone to take you under their wing, go out there and find a good wing to climb under.” — Dave Thomas

“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.” — Galileo Galilei

Limits to Success

“Every man dies. Not every man lives. The only limits to the possibilities in your life tomorrow are the “buts” you use today.” — Les Brown

God Bless,

— CC

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