Got a problem? -- Attack it with optimism

  • Published
  • By Lt Col Timothy Miller
  • 33rd Flying Training Squadron
Secretary of State (and retired Army general) Colin Powell once said, "Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier." Seeing what happened in the Persian Gulf under his watch, this statement couldn't be truer. History is full of examples of how optimism played a key role in the successful achievement of desired goals.
Optimism gives us courage. Explorers, from Magellan to our modern day astronauts, couldn't have stepped forth and reached new heights had they not believed they would succeed. Optimism helps us find a way. Necessity is the mother of invention, but even the best inventions couldn't become reality without the belief they would work. Optimism is contagious. Team sports use it to get psyched for a game. I've never heard someone say they're going to lose, and then win. Instead, coaches emphasize the positive attributes of their team to pass on their optimism. Once you believe you will win, you pass on the confidence and feeling to others. That hope and drive spreads throughout the team until it affects the outcome of the game.
So, how do you attack a problem with optimism? Below are six simple steps that define a subtle shift in attitude on how to approach and solve issues:
One, stop worrying about all the bad things that might happen. Worrying about things you can't control is a useless waste of time and energy. It will tear you down and affect those around you.
Two, break down the larger problem into smaller, more manageable issues. Write down each issue and start looking for possible solutions. Writing it down will help you understand the scope and start putting order to chaos. Also, putting each issue down on paper will help build a roadway to success and, if you're working with others on the problem, help them understand their part.
Three, look for ways to make the most of the situation. Stop looking for the difficulties with the problem; good can come from even the worst possible situation. How you approach an issue will directly affect how others view it.
Four, believe in yourself, those you work with and those who work for you. Trust in others and they will trust in you. Give people a chance to soar and you will be amazed with what they accomplish.
Five, let your optimism shine through and others will be more willing to tackle the problem with you. It's more fun to solve a tough problem with someone that is upbeat and motivated, than to be stymied by a pessimistic roadblock.
Six, never, ever, ever give up! This doesn't mean keep banging your head against the wall. It means keep looking for another solution if the first one didn't succeed. I have always believed, where there is a way, I have the will!
By instilling these six steps into your life, great things can happen and you'll be surprised how much you can accomplish. After all, had Orville and Wilbur not been optimists more than 100 years ago, we still might be part of the Army. So, the next time someone asks if your cup is half full or half empty, tell them, "Wow! Look at all the water I have!"