Effective leaders see the world through the lens of possibilities.
This ability is a learned skill, and it is a skill that must be developed if the leader is going to garner any sense of optimism among those they seek to influence.
It is not a naive, “don’t worry be happy” type of mindset. Rather, it is a crucial ability to see past the troubling circumstances and to identify the potential for positive outcomes that others might miss.
Leaders develop this skill by:
- Engaging with other positive leaders
- Choosing to minimize negative media sources
- Studying leaders who have overcome tremendous odds
- Maintaining a “gratitude journal”, a daily record of blessings
- Becoming a “thanking machine”, expressing thanks at every opportunity.
This week I found myself in my home office, gazing out the window as yet another day of rain unfolded. The month of May, 2020, has seen the most rainfall in Chicago’s recorded history. In the 150 years that such records have been kept, never has as much rain fallen in this month as we have seen this year.
Day after day of relentless rain has simply added to the growing sense of despair that COVID-19 and 10 weeks of social distancing had seemingly imposed on our community.
But as I looked out the window, it wasn’t the low, gray cloud cover nor the rainfall itself that caught my attention.
Instead, I was captivated by how lush and green everything looked. “I don’t think I have ever seen everything looking so healthy and green as it is right now”, I found myself thinking.
The “lens of possibilities” had caused my vision to look beyond the rain, and to see the green.
In a world dominated by the grim realities of COVID-19 and the resultant economic hardships, it is easy and understandable for leaders to succumb to a sense of pessimism. Leaders are under enormous pressure in this season, and maintaining a sense of hopeful optimism can seem unrealistic at best, and foolish at worst.
But as a leader, you must continue to hone your ability to see past the troubling circumstances, and to instead see the possibilities that might lie just beneath the surface.
Those you influence are depending on you to maintain your optimism.
So learn to look beyond the rain. Learn to see the green.