How optimistic are you, not about 2010, but your role?
On January 1, New York City swore Mayor Michael Bloomberg in for an unprecedented third term as mayor. According to the Associated Press the mayor “…sought to strike a humble tone Friday as he began his third term by promising “to listen and to lead” and to take a fresh look at the challenges facing the city.”
According to Wikipedia, New York City’s 2008, estimated population exceeds 8.3 million people, with a land area of 305 square miles. Can we say densely populated?
Imagine the challenges. What does it take to lead such a city? According to former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, “Leaders need to be optimists. Their vision is beyond the present.”
Mayor Bloomberg’s perspective says much when he said,
“I’ve got the greatest job in the world. There’s no other job in government where cause and effect is so tightly coupled where you can make a difference every day in so many different ways and in so many different people’s lives. It’s a great challenge.”
Optimism is in the headlines; many are eager and ready to leave 2009 behind and step into both the new decade and New Year. A Google search for “Optimism 2010” returned about 4,890,000 results today.
Writing headlines about optimism and living as an optimistic leader are two different matters. What does it mean to live with optimism?
- Optimism is freedom. You have the power to choose; how will you control your thoughts? John Maxwell’s take on the impact of our thinking is helpful at this point. Consider how…
- Your thinking impacts what your beliefs
- What you believe impacts what you expect
- What you expect impacts your attitude
- Your attitude impacts your behavior
- Your behavior becomes your performance
- Your performance influences your life.
- Optimism is a habit. An optimist is a person who consistently expects a favorable outcome. Optimism is about disposition…your usual mood.
- Optimism exercises faith. While reality is about all that exists or happens (good or bad) an optimist believes the best is yet to be. Faith is one’s belief in or trust in somebody or something, especially without proof. Faith allows you to make decisions based on what you believe your principles. The word optimism comes from the Latin for “best”. Vince Lombardi noted, “It’s easy to have faith in yourself and have discipline when you’re a winner, when you’re number one. What you’ve got to have is faith and discipline when you’re not yet a winner.”
- Optimism is about expectations. Optimism focuses on the best possible outcome or the most positive aspects of a situation. An optimistic leader habitually expects a favorable outcome. This is guided by a proper setting of expectations:
- Concise, well thought out, realistic expectations
- Clear communication with all parties
- Ownership and commitment by key players
- Consequences of both execution or failure
- Coaching others through obstacles as they arise
Here are questions to help guide your reflection this week . . .
- How do you leverage your freedom to control your thoughts and cultivate optimism?
- How does your current thinking influence your beliefs about “that situation”? What about on your expectations…attitude…behavior…performance?
- How does what you think need to change for you to be optimistic?
- What most often stands in your way of expecting the best possible outcome?
- What keeps you from emphasizing the most positive aspects of a situation?
- How well do you set expectations? How do you know that to be true?
Leadership is a privilege that carries a tremendous load that today requires a depth of optimism. In Bloomberg’s inauguration speech he said, “This term is a special opportunity, one that comes with extraordinary responsibilities.”
Such is the journey of an optimistic leader.
Here’s to your next level —