Leadership Article - Characteristics of Tough Minded Optomists

Hello Everyone,

As I mentioned in my last blog entry, I wanted to share a few leadership articles with you. If you are serving in a volunteer leadership role for AALNC - thank you!!  If you are not involved in AALNC at the local or national level, I encourage you to do so.  I think you will find it very rewarding, both on a personal and professional level.    

While in Chicago for a Board of Directors meeting, Sharon and I had the opportunity to meet with Henry Givray, President & CEO of Smith Bucklin, AALNC's management company.  During our meeting, he shared this article with us.  I thought it was an inspiring read - short and to the point. You may have seen the info from the power of optimism before, but this version also includes commentary written by Henry Givray.  

See below. 

Karen J. Huff, BSN RN LNCC
AALNC President


12 Characteristics of Tough-Minded Optimists

From “The Power of Optimism” by Alan Loy McGinnis, 1990
Commentary by Henry Givray, 2009

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It’s what sunflowers do.”― Helen Keller

1. Are seldom surprised by trouble.

Tough-minded optimists recognize and embrace the premise that problems are part of life. However, they see themselves as able and willing to be problem solvers. They do this by developing and presenting ideas and options which help solve problems. And tough-minded optimists are resilient in pressing forward until they get to where they knew they would eventually get to – success.

2. Look for partial solutions.

Waiting until you have 100 percent of the facts or the perfect solution before you act will result in inaction, missed opportunities or even paralysis. Tough-minded optimists don’t wait until everything is perfectly in order or known before they take action. They know that “beginning is half the doing.” They aren’t crippled by a need for perfection. Instead they are willing to take small steps toward eventual success. Toughminded optimists inherently understand that thoughtful action is far better than inaction or “analysis paralysis,” which solves nothing.

3. Believe they have control over their futures.

Optimistic thinking inherently boosts self-confidence and encourages determination. Optimistic people don’t let others’ opinions solely determine how they view the current or future state of affairs.

4. Allow for regular renewal.

I interpret this as mental, social and physical renewal. Mental renewal is about learning and continuous education. Social renewal is about making a special effort to get acquainted with new people as well as nurturing existing relationships. Physical renewal is of course about being andstaying healthy by eating right and exercising.

5. Interrupt their negative trains of thought.

For me, this simply means that as human beings we will at times have negative thoughts or self-doubt no matter how naturally optimistic or positive we may be. The key is to work at being self-aware while constantly monitoring our response to other people, circumstances, conditions on the ground or new information. Negative thoughts often distort our understanding of problems or issues at hand. Distortion leads to blockage in finding solutions or charting courses of action. Another interesting implication of this principle is this: by blocking or shedding negative thoughts or preconceptions we are more open to give trust and the benefit of doubt, which in turn builds trust with others.

6. Heighten their powers of appreciation.

This is about possessing and demonstrating a genuine and heartfelt “thank you” approach, both in words and in actions. Optimists tend to see the good in people, the positives in situations and the beauty around them. This in turn fosters trust and a positive response from others, which is especially helpful during difficult and trying times.

7. Use their imaginations to rehearse success.

By definition, pessimists view the world through a prism of danger, angst and failure. Tough-minded optimists picture a desired state of the future and are confident to go about and make it happen. They develop positive images to minimize or replace the natural anxiety of uncertainty. But tough-minded optimists are also realistic in their visualizations. They are comfortably able to adjust downward, as needed, to make their “images” more believable.

8. Are cheerful even when they can’t be happy.

I believe this is especially critical for anyone in a position of authority or responsibility who aspires to be an effective leader. In fact, during trying times, a leader’s optimism lifts spirits, gives hope and builds strength in others. Following this principle doesn’t mean you should be artificial or take on a what-meworry, head-in-the-sand persona. It simply means that tough-minded optimists always have the “bigger picture” in mind. They recognize that their attitude can and will have an impact (sometimes profound) on the people around them, which can either enable or inhibit performance, results, and problem solving.

9. Believe they have an almost unlimited capacity for stretching.

Tough-minded optimists believe (and act accordingly) that they are on a perpetual journey of selfimprovement, learning and discovery; their attitude is “my personal best is yet to come.” They are constantly pushing, stretching, leveraging to grow, finding new ways to do things and developing themselves. This is not about Pollyanna positive thinking but more about recognizing that the mind, heart and soul offer limitless opportunities and potential.

10. Build lots of love into their lives.

Cynical or negative people knowingly or unknowingly isolate themselves and end up being alone much of the time. During times of great difficulty and challenge, personally or professionally, tough-minded optimists recognize the power of love and friendship to heal, nurture and renew. McGinnis wrote “love nurtures optimism.” The reverse is true – hostility leads to cynicism and pessimism.

11. Like to swap good news.

How and what we talk about affects our state of mental and physical being. Sharing success stories builds excitement, is great for morale and can be educational.

12. Accept what cannot be changed.

Even the biggest optimist has to know there is a point to not “throwing good money after bad.” Perseverance is powerful, but not accepting what cannot be changed can be costly as other opportunities drift away. Simply stated, tough-minded optimists ask “is there anything I can do to change the situation?”  If the answer is “no,” then they let it go and move on.

© Copyright 2009 SmithBucklin Corporation. All rights reserved.

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