I’m kind of a Star Wars nerd. Or maybe a wannabe. Not so much of a nerd as to be able to know the details of every scene, every character and every line uttered. I know people like that. I’m the kind of nerd that shows up at the theatre every time a new episode comes out and I thoroughly enjoy the whole experience of a Star Wars film. One scene stands out from one of the last few movies — the young rebel pilot moving in for the final attack. His droid, named BB8, is onboard and begins nervously chirping in the face of impending doom. The pilot responds, “Happy beeps here, buddy!”
There is a lot of goodness in the power of positive thinking. The author and speaker, Jon Gordon, has written a number of books on the how positive leaders can greatly impact the greater good. The Power of Positive Leadership is a really good book on this topic. Having positivity overall is a good thing, both to promote good team energy and good self-talk. A positive outlook is also a springboard to flow state. All good stuff.
But in the face of today’s difficult global circumstances sometimes too much positivity can come off as something less than authentic, as if to dismiss or ignore current circumstances. In other words, there are times when no one wants to hear a bunch of positivity.
One of my favorite authors and optimists, Simon Sinek, cut a short video to talk about Optimism and Positivity. He describes optimism as something different than positivity – and it’s definitely not naive. Optimism is the belief that the future is positive, that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and we’re heading there, together. He contrasts that with that positivity is saying things are good when they’re not. His definition of optimism sounds a lot like Dr. Gervais definition.
I was scrolling through the comments of the video, just to see the reaction to these definitions, and I came across an analogy from one person. It says positivity is the glass is half-full, negativity is the glass being half-empty, and optimism is that we have water regardless of the level. Interesting.
Agile Best Self Principle #6: The most effective way to be your best self is to be mindful and intentional.
Following Agile Best Self Principle 6 — being mindful and intentional — being clear about this distinction is helpful for me. In my view, in times like we’re in now, knowing the nuanced difference between the two can help us show up better. Maybe sharing something optimistic may be more helpful right now, another situation positivity can helpful, or even times where both are good.
With intentional language right now, I say that I am optimistic about the future. I look forward to what next year brings and I can’t wait to see many of you again in person.
Copyright © 2021 Michaele Gardner and Brian Hackerson