Blog Episode

Overcoming Pessimism: The Art of Looking on the Bright Side.

Leaders traditionally have one eye on their organization and one eye on the rest of the world – the markets, commodities, economics, politics, global conflicts, local challenges, the list goes on. As a leader, it’s important to know how your organization can be impacted by elements outside of your control.

However, the effort can be exhausting. We’re well into year three of a volatile, complex, and uncertain situation, with a lot of ambiguity about what the future holds. Our worries two years ago were different than they are today, but we’re still missing the sense of comfort that we had become used to.

It’s easy to look around and mutter about a dumpster fire. You might grumble about the six-month back order, or the recent turnover in your company, or the price of gas, which you’re particularly feeling because you’re back in the office full-time.

As a leader, you set the tone of your organization. If you focus on the negative, you will create an organization populated with employees who also focus on the negative. Alternatively, you can focus on the successes your organization have achieved. 


Building the Capacity for Resilience

As a leader, you are responsible for building the capacity for resilience within your organization by creating an environment of support and acceptance.

  1. Celebrate wins in new ways. Find ways to connect with the team, and celebrate again in person. Small wins, large wins. Make your people feel appreciated, because a small win to you might be a huge win for them. Plus, celebrating at work makes people feel included as part of a team.
  2. Invest in relationships now. When people are stressed and overwhelmed, they need to know that they are valued, and that you will make the time to invest in them, now and in the future.
  3. Lead change. I recently read an article that used the metaphor of an EKG monitor – where the up and down (changing) movement of the line represents life and that to live, we must experience change. Commit to becoming the best leader of change.
  4. Stay calm – your team is watching. Consistently try to bring yourself back to the present moment. Take perspective regarding how important this moment or situation will be a year from now, and demonstrate a stable, calm demeanor.
  5. Stay aware of your emotional energy. Don’t get caught up in negative thinking, even in the face of rapid, tumultuous changes. Your team will sense and feed off your emotional energy – if it’s positive the entire team will be positively influenced.


Sometimes it seems like pessimism is easier than optimism. It can take work to see the bright spot in a situation of change.  Leaders who work to create a culture that encourages optimism will have happier employees who can function at a higher level of performance.

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