By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
When weighing the benefits of optimism versus pessimism, it is easy to contend that everyone (leader or not) should strive to be optimistic. While this is true, the leader has the ability to create an environment where optimism is easier for the organization to achieve. Optimism has been proven to enhance the immune system, as well as helping people deal with devastating events. Reason being, optimistic people believe that negative events are temporary, limited in scope, and manageable. An effective leader will remind their team of past success to help them when facing difficult failures.
Romans 5:3-5 (ESV): More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Gratitude is also associated with optimism and it has been determined that grateful people are happier and are less likely to suffer from stress and depression. It is difficult to be thankful if we spend the majority of our time focusing on the negative aspects of life. For a leader to create a culture of gratefulness, they should start by showing their appreciation for each member of their team. An effective leader will focus on the positive contributions of the team much more often than they mention their shortcomings. The goal is to have everyone reflecting on the good times; so when the bad times come (and they will come), they are confident in themselves, each other, and the mission.
Philippians 4:8-9 (NIV): Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
We face the choice between pessimism and optimism every day, multiple times a day, with each interaction. It is ultimately up to us to choose happiness, but the leader can play an essential role in that process. They should exhibit strength, courage, appreciation, and a commitment to the mission and their people. Optimism is contagious and people respond positively to people who they believe have their best interests at heart. Let us encourage each other to new heights; filled with success to build on and failure to learn from.