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Optimism and Vision

Jane Ollis, Chair, Kent Institute of Directors

Optimism draws you into the future. It puts you in the right space to create compelling purposeful visions, how to achieve them and then, the icing on the cake, it supplies you with the positive energy and drive you need to deliver them. Like a gentle wind pushing you from behind it steers you around obstacles as they appear in your path and keep you focussed on where you are heading.”

Chris Reddy, Leadership Coach

 "The best leaders aren't those who speak the loudest or are most decisive. The best leaders I have seen are those who share their vision, inspire self-belief, listen and learn from this around them. To infect optimism on those around me, I challenge negative thinking, promote positive relationships and look to celebrate and praise the small things as well as the big."

Jon Gordon, President, Jon Gordon Companies

“Lead with Optimism (it's contagious!) - The engine for America's growth and prosperity has always been its can-do attitude and spirit. Unfortunately, in the past few years optimism has been in short supply. The most important weapon against pessimism is to transfer your optimism and vision to others. Leadership is a transfer of believe and your belief inspires others to think and act in ways that drive results.”

Sister Jayanti, European Director of the Brahma Kumaris

Just as nature goes through its cycles, and day will definitely follow the darkest night, although there are many things that feel very dark at the moment, there is a conviction that light will not only penetrate the darkness but banish it - so that the day will begin. Legends and myths of every civilisation have remembered that the power of good ultimately conquers evil. This is the optimism with which I hold a vision for a better world.”

Maureen Metcalf, Founder & CEO Metcalf & Associates, Author, Radio Host

“Optimism is the fuel that powers our vision and aspirations. The combination of worth vision, passion and optimism make almost anything possible. During challenging times, by surrounding ourselves with people who possess this combination we will find joy in the struggles and create a positive outcome, even if not what was originally planned.”

Chuck Swindoll, Insight for Living Ministries

When you have vision it affects your attitude. Your attitude is optimistic rather than pessimistic. Your attitude stays positive rather than negative. Not foolishly positive, as though in fantasy, for you are reading God into your circumstances. So when a situation comes that cuts your feet out from under you, you don't throw up your arms and panic. You don't give up. Instead, you say, "Lord, this is Your moment. This is where You take charge. You're in this."

Rosanna Iacono, Co-Founder, The Growth Activists

"Optimism is what fuels our hope, our resilience, our ability to pick ourselves and forge on in the face of failure, and most importantly our ability to create an exciting future vision to strive towards.  But optimism is not fully potentialised until it is combined with thoughtful collective activism - only then are great things achieved."

Allan Shaw, Principal, Knox School

“Strategy is about envisioning and planning for a better future. Without optimism there is little point in planning for a better future."

Uschi Schreiber

“Optimism is inherent to good leadership - it’s all about creating a vision for a better future and instilling that optimistic view in others.”

Adam Bowcutt, Author

“I am very optimistic and excited about the future. The opportunities that will be created as a result of technology and its integration into everyday life will be great. Barriers to entry and opportunity have been reduced due to easy access to the internet and online communities. The basis for my answer is from vision and logic and a healthy, non-fearful approach. The natural human ability to learn and adapt quickly will be valuable. Will there be big challenges? Yes. Bring on these challenges!”

Jess Ekstrom, author of ‘Chasing the Bright Side’

 "The threat of not being optimistic is stagnancy. We can’t move forward to a better tomorrow if we don’t believe and visualize what could be, and remain confident enough to actively march toward that vision."

Renee Branson, Author

"Optimism is the fuel and the faith that drives our resilience when our other resilience tools (reason, composure, vision) are temporarily out of reach. Optimism is the chair we sink into that we know will hold us until reason and composure catch up."

Professor Paul Gadek

“Leaders have a vision for the future and a conviction that it is achievable and will be good for those they lead. Optimism to me implies a hope rather than a pathway. But I do hope for the best, whatever that turns out to be.”

Jo Mikleus

“Optimism in leadership embodies essential qualities required to lead in a fast-paced and ever-changing world. I think the valuable qualities of an optimistic leader include self-awareness, flexibility, self-confidence, initiative, resilience, and adaptability.  Having an optimistic outlook creates conditions for success as it allows leaders to recognise and redirect unhelpful reactions, to think before acting, and to choose positive responses. Leaders who are optimistic generally raise the aspirations of their teams to aspire towards (and achieve) their best. They do this by creating an environment that blends vision with personal accountability, innovative thinking and appropriate risk-taking.”

Sally Foley-Lewis

“Bringing more optimism into workplaces aligns with improving workplace cultures that lead to less staff-turnover, higher productivity and profits. Optimism can start from reframing an attitude or viewpoint from mistrust or concern to most people want to do well and most people want to get along, be engaged and be a valuable contributor. Keeping this in mind as we communicate, drive a strategic vision, check progress on implementing a plan, means that if you see an error or something is not clear, start from that more optimistic stance and ask questions to uncover what’s going on.”

Justin Johnson

“I am absolutely optimistic about the future.  It is what we make it!  Leadership is all about having a vision, sharing it with others and bringing them along.  There seems to be a lot of disruptive forces and threats in the world today - but there has always been disruption and there will always be threats.  We as a people have more knowledge and capacity that at any time in our history - could we screw it up? Of course! But I am confident we won't, that good leaders will cut through the noise and lead us to a bright future. It won't be linear, there will be miss-steps and side trips - but that is the way it has always been.”

Bryce Vissel, Professor of Neuroscience, UTS

"What makes me optimistic? The possibilities generated by human endeavour.  There's definitely a long way to go, and a lot more research to do in spinal cord research and research of the brain.  Optimism and belief that science holds the answers underpin everything we do. As we do the hard work, we remain optimistic and thankful to the people who believe in our vision of creating a world where cure is possible for spinal cord injury and brain disorders."

Chris Drake, The Mother and Child Health and Education Trust

As Alexander Pope put it: "Hope springs eternal in the human breast" and if we shut down hope, optimism and trust in goodness we are shutting down an inherent part of what it means to be a human being, i.e. to envision and then move towards a better tomorrow, with head, heart and hands. Having built our castle in the sky we do then have to lay its foundations on the ground in the muddy realities of today but not to aim for it is to condemn ourselves to it never happening.

“This is not to advocate a blind and naive expectation that there will not be setbacks, difficulties and failures or that we should ignore the benefit, prudence and necessity of precaution, planning, a fallback plan B and sometimes some healthy cynicism but. learning as we go along, we must look ahead with a smile, positivity and confidence if we are to have any chance of building the future we want. We might make it and we not make it, but if we don't try we surely won't.

“Pessimism closes the heart and soul, blinkers the eyes and lowers the head. It shuts off dreams and limits the horizon of possibilities. Optimism opens the heart, lightens up and lifts the spirit, boosts morale and stretches our vision to new realms, forging a bridge from an envisaged future, to which our heart soars, back to the present where we can work to make it happen.

Bob White, CEO at EB2BCOM

“One of my favourite books of all time is Matt Ridley's "The Rational Optimist", and I have recently read it yet again. The title says it all - I like to think that rationalism and optimism are two of my guiding principles. I believe that it should be required reading for leaders, and particularly parents, teachers, politicians, academics and business people. Add to this a vision for the country's future and a path to get there and it covers most of the key requirements for political leadership. Unfortunately I see little of this in our current crop.”

Governor Jay Inslee

“It’s about talking about the level of our ambition, and the level of our commitment to our kids, and the level of our sense of optimism. We have to have a vision of the future rather than just a concern about the future. We’ve got to have a positive statement of a way forward rather than just a warning sign.”

Sherilyn Hansen

“I am optimistic for the future because of the strength of character and commitment in young people. They are passionate, driven to create change but not at all costs - they will find the balance between economic good and social good and have a range of technology tools they have grown up with to help them get achieve their vision.”

Jeff Kerr-Bell

“Optimism is the only essential ingredient in all significant achievement. Apologies in advance for the auto references, but all things that are worthwhile have challenges, speed humps and barriers to overcome. It is the torque that helps drives leaders and others to overcome those barriers. Optimism, shared and well communicated, helps us believe that a vision for the future can be achieved, and compels us forward when negativity and pessimism apply the brakes.  Optimism I believe is the foundation of one of my favourite quotes from Calvin Coolidge "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."

Margie Stewart

“Optimism is essential for all leaders.  It enables them to share a positive vision and inspire their teams.  They are able to empower and encourage individuals to take a risk and leap of faith.  Optimistic leaders are creative and able to find solutions to problems.   They don't get stuck fixating on spreadsheets and tiny details.  They keep sight of the big picture and what is really important.    Their focus is always on their customers, internal and external stakeholders.  Their optimism creates a culture that is inclusive and brings out the best in people.  They are forward thinking and always moving towards success and positive outcomes for all.”

Dona Tantirimudalige

"Where necessity might be the mother of invention, without optimism, invention would seldom grow beyond the embryonic. What do I mean by that? Well, I believe optimism is critical in every step towards innovation. The drive to dream of what might be possible unconstrained by the perceived restrictions of the status quo requires optimism. The courage to not only envision the future you want but to step into planning and creating that future requires optimism. The willingness to step away from the theoretical and into action requires optimism. And when facing failure, the resilience to dust yourself off, regroup, learn, and try again (or try something different) requires optimism. Every step towards innovation requires optimism."

Nancy Youseff, Author of "Fear Money Purpose."

The way I see it, entrepreneurs are typically a different breed: we don't think the same as everyone else. We are eternally optimistic, even in the fast of overwhelmingly difficult odds. That optimism creates the ideas that keep you persistent, resilient and bouncing back when things fail. It’s almost like a disease!

"Having a positive outlook for the future and for the world as a whole makes entrepreneurs the visionaries that they are. When you’re optimistic, you’re usually a happier person and that creates endorphins, also known as the happy hormones.

"But I think the biggest thing about entrepreneurs being over-optimistic is it means that they’re very focused on achieving their goals – which makes them super clear on their strategy. If you're optimistic and driven and you can get buy-in from the people around you, particularly your teams and key stakeholders, and that can show a stronger leadership style and inform your strategy.”


Professor Raja Guha Thakurta, Astronomer at the UCO/Lick Observatory

“My optimism arises from the tremendous qualities I see in the young people I interact with. They are intelligent, passionate, motivated, hardworking, dedicated, ... ... they are capable of rising to meet any and every challenge. Our generation of adults has a responsibility of engaging youth in our work, sharing our passion and vision with them, and, equally importantly, learning about their passion and vision. It is clear to me that the future is in very good hands. We adults simply need to work with youth today to ensure that tomorrow's handover is a smooth one.”

Raya Bidshahri, Founder & CEO of Awecademy

“We can’t let negative headlines and the media shape our perception of ourselves as a species, and the vision we have for the future. As legendary astronomer Carl Sagan said, “For all of our failings, despite our limitations and fallibility, we humans are capable of greatness.” Hollywood likes to paint disproportionately dystopian visions of the world, and while those are possible futures, we can and must also imagine a future of humanity where we live in abundance, prosperity, and transcendence. We can’t expect current innovators and future generations to make this positive vision a reality if they believe our species is doomed for failure. It inspires us to continue to contribute to human progress and feel that we can push humanity forward. It’s absolutely critical that our journalists cover the many challenges, threats, and issues in our world today. But just as we report the significant negative news in the world, we must also continue to highlight humanity’s accomplishments. After all, how can our youth grow up believing they can have a positive impact on the world if the news is suggesting otherwise?”

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