Word Of the Week #528: Optimism

September 18, 2014 by  

Optimism the best possible or conceivable condition.

Do you generally feel optimistic about your life? Do you see failure as “just a setback” or a road block that you have to get around? Or does failure make you feel helpless?

This is the last trait on self-motivation from Daniel Goleman’s book on Emotional Intelligence. He says, “Consider the role of positive motivation – the marshalling of feelings of enthusiasm, zeal, and confidence – in achievement. Studies of Olympic athletes, world-class musicians, and chess grand masters find their unifying trait is the ability to motivate themselves to pursue relentless training routines.

Optimism, like hope, means having a strong expectation that, in general, things will turn out all right in life, despite setbacks and frustrations. From a optimismthe stand point of emotional intelligence, optimism is an attitude that buffers people against falling into apathy, hopelessness, or depression in the face of tough going. And as with hope, its near cousin, optimism pays dividends in life (providing, of course, it is a realistic optimism: a too-naïve optimism can be disastrous.)

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 self-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 to have the best possible or conceivable condition? How would it feel to know that a setback is just that and not permanent?

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