Word Of the Week #50: Optimism

April 22, 2009 by  

Optimism: the best possible or conceivable condition.

Do you generally feel optimistic about your life? Do you see failure as just a set back or a road block that you have to get around?

Dr. Martin Seligman, the author of “Learned Optimism,” says “Success comes down to a combination of reasonable talent with the ability to keep going in the face of defeat.”

For his research Dr. Seligman chose Met Life insurance salesmen since they must constantly rebound from getting the door slammed in their face. He discovered that in the first two years on the job, salesmen who scored high for optimism sold 37% more than their pessimistic brethren.

Then he tried another experiment: Applicants who were optimists but who failed to meet Met Life’s other standard test criteria were hired anyway. This group outsold its pessimistic counterparts by 21% in the first year and by 57% the next.

If you have experienced my Fun-Damentals of Emotion Intelligence program, then you know it’s your IQ that gets you hired and your EQ that gets you promoted. Your ability to motivate yourself and stay motivated is one of the key elements of emotional intelligence. Optimism and hope fall under motivation!

This week focus on being more optimistic. Look at everything as an opportunity, even though it may seem negative at the time. What would you have to do, and how would it make you feel, to have the best possible or conceivable condition?

Reader Responses

“Many years ago, I was in sales. I sold restaurant equipment, china, glassware, etc., to hotels, clubs, restaurants, hospitals, etc. During my three years in this business, I learned all about rejection and how to deal with it. I actually learned that “Optimism” was the best way to deal with rejection and that in sales I had a formula I learned that worked for me.  After getting doors slammed in my face time after time, I learned that it took four doors slammed in my face and then the fifth person ended up purchasing something from me. Ultimately, I earned the respect of my clients and established over 200 accounts that became very active accounts and then my formula changed. I learned all of this through Optimism and not giving up. I knew I had something to sell and that ultimately all of my accounts
would end up purchasing from me in due time. — Don Vance

“Optimism helps keep hope alive! Others at home or in the workplace can see optimism in us by just looking at our faces. An easy smile, a friendly demeanor and a spring in the step let people know that we are optimists at heart. Even in the face of hardship, I was taught at an early age to look at the bright side of those situations.  If there is a problem or obstacle, it becomes an opportunity to move in another direction. I have always believed that when one door closed, that another opened with even more possibilities. One of the things I tell people is that the best is yet to come.  Also, it gets better. At the time it may not seem that way, but it does get better. When things go wrong, as they often do, it is very easy to get on the pity pot and tell the world, “woe is me.” It is in those situations where we have reduced perspective that we usually lose sight of the big picture.  When the sun is shining brightly in the morning, it fuels my optimism even more. I had someone ask me once, “You always seem to have a smile on your face.” The reason is that I am optimistic and happy in my life. I have to count my blessings every day, especially with my health. I have much for which to be grateful every day. You will have to agree with me, Susan, that the optimism of those folks in New Orleans is really being tested! To try to find the rainbow down in the Crescent City right now is not easy. Hopefully the people in that great city can retain their optimism and sense of humor when everything around them seems to be washing away. I would not wish that situation on anyone. May God bless them.” — Joe Moran