Vital Optimism


I think I first heard the phrase VITAL OPTIMISM when Gordon MacDonald spoke at one of the Leadership  Summits of Living Word Community Church. That phrase has stayed with me ever since. In part - because I am not naturally wired for this. I can easily default to a "Glass is Half Empty" kind of person. It is easy for me to see what is wrong in the world. On the plus side, this is partly since I am a visionary who dreams of things that can be much better than they are. Still . . . Vital Optimism is not my strong suit.

Yet, Vital Optimism is part of the work of creating emotionally healthy workplaces of RESONANCE. Optimism, confidence, encouragement, affirmation, warmth, belief, hope, joy - all this is part of the Vital Optimism Mindset. It is so much better to be around these people and it is so much better for you to be this kind of leader.

I was recently in a meeting that was (partly) hijacked by negativity and criticism. Not only was the glass half empty for these people, it was about Three Quarters Empty. Ugghh. Then I found myself wondering - how many times does my own pessimism hijack meetings, conversations, dreams and more.

Now, I will never be an naive optimist. I believe leaders have to have a strong streak of Critical Realism. To not be a Critical Realist is to be irresponsible and Pollyana. In our world - that is more than navie - it is dangerous. But . . . along with the Critical Realism Streak, really great leaders will lead with Vital Optimism. This is one of those Brilliant and Necessary BOTH/AND paradoxes.

    Critically Realistic
+ Vitally Optimistic
= GREAT LEADERSHIP

Do a little self-assessment.
How are you doing with this combination. 
Ask a few of your colleagues and closest workers how they experience you.
If you are off balance one way or the other - what are the ways to move into the Fruitful TENSION of Both / And?

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International
BrianRice@lcileaders.org

LCI - Empowering You to Live in the Both/And