Optimism: A Team Sport

Simon Sinek, from daily “Notes to Inspire” email from December 14th, 2020

Several years ago, a colleague registered me for Simon Sinek’s weekday email mailing list, called “Notes to Inspire”. We had bonded in a conversation over Simon’s work, and she thought I would enjoy receiving these emails. She was right — I do! These are often quotes taken directly from his books, and his numerous inspirational talks. If you haven’t seen his TED talk from many years ago, I highly recommend it. It’s among the most watched talks online, with over 52 million views as of today.

The problem with some of these email lists for me, is that if you don’t read them every day, they pile up in the inbox. This has been the case, so in the normal, year-end slowdown I decided to work my way through about fifty or so I hadn’t read. I had seen many of these quotes before, and many could be immediately deleted. Then, I ran across the one above, and it was something I hadn’t heard before, so I did not immediately delete it. It was new because it connected the idea of trust to a biological reaction, and that idea intrigued me.

It occurred to me that this idea fits nicely with our series on training optimism. To me, it reminded me that training optimism is not a solo endeavor. It takes a team — your circle of people whom you trust. Bestselling author Brené Brown illustrates this concept as the “share square”– the list of people who’s opinions you truly value, and it should fit on a small Post-it® Note. I really like this visual, as it focuses our attention on making that list small, including the most important people.

Building this team is not a trivial endeavor — it takes a long time to build trusting relationships. Simon Sinek suggests in the quote above that there is a biological connection, so we should be able to detect those relationships that are worthy for consideration for our team.

And the roster of our teams can change, too, through circumstances. I know my team roster has changed somewhat as a result of working at home, but it’s still an important part of my optimism training. This concept of a trusted circle, or team, is what’s behind Agile Best Self Principle 4:

Agile Best Self Principle #4: Engage your trusted circle daily.

Leveraging our own inner circle of trusted people, our team, is a necessary element for building optimism, I believe. It gives us clarity and confidence that can drive us to be better than we were yesterday. For me, my team helped me figure our my Agile Best Self North Star — to be a light — by providing small glimpses of how they saw me at my best, as well as the encouragement and support of my journey. Without that team, I think it would have been much more difficult, if not impossible. There would have been much more room for the Inner Critic to come in and grab the microphone of my own narrative.

So, here’s a 2021 challenge for you — how can you build and/or leverage your trusted circle to expand your optimism skill?

Copyright © 2021 Michaele Gardner and Brian Hackerson

Published by Brian Hackerson

My personal philosophy is to be a light.

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