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The Time is NOW for Purposeful Optimism

by Sue Barrett 

I get the feeling, at this stage of the COVID-19 crisis, that many of us feel like we are living in a kind of ‘Twilight Zone*’ – an ambiguous area between the boundaries of two concepts, conditions – a grey zone; or a state of surrealism, where things that should not make sense seem to do so; or an indefinite or transitional condition. Take your pick.

For many of us, everything we have taken for granted or accepted as standard has been thrown into question. If you’re like me, you’re likely asking yourself, your family, your team, your clients and suppliers, a whole range of questions like:

  • Will we be going back to BAU – business as usual, or is it now BAUn – business as unusual?
  • How we will we emerge on the other side of COVID-19 as businesses, communities and societies? What will be the new norm?
  • What will supply chains look like? How will they operate? What will we be selling? Where will sales and customers come from? What new markets will open up? How will business relationships evolve? Will we still be in business in our current form or will we need to adapt and become something else? 
  • What new ideas, innovation and business models will emerge? (Here’s a website covidinnovations.com with 700+ and counting new ideas, products, services, etc. emerging from the COVID-19 crisis.)

This is precisely the time for asking these types of questions. Never before in our lifetimes have we had a chance to change and adapt to a new normal; create better businesses, teams, communities, economies and societies. Yes, we must manage our costs and money but then we need to make time to plan, undertake deep thinking, look at new ideas, new opportunities and partnerships because there is a big appetite for NEW out there.

In the same storm but not in the same boat

But before I press on, I completely understand that it’s normal and OK for people to feel a sense of grief, loss and distress during such a time of crisis. I have been going through these feelings as well but I know, as a Stoic, that standing still won’t suffice. Instead, I believe that it’s better that we keep moving forward discovering what we CAN DO, asking ourselves and each other the important questions that give us choice and agency so we can create positive changes where we can collaborate with each other for better outcomes, a better future.

Yes, it’s bloody hard work to look up and ahead at what’s possible if you’re under immense pressure just to survive day to day. We keep hearing we’re all on the same boat. NO. This is not true. We are all in the same storm and, yes, we are all in this together, but each of our boats differ greatly.

For instance, did you know there are Year 12 students who are also working double shifts at McDonalds as the main bread winners for their families because their parents have lost their income during the crisis, and now many have lost those jobs because of store closures due to COVID-19 contamination?

We must recognise that each of us have different challenges to deal with but none of us is alone. Almost everyone has a story of crisis trials and tribulations with some being much worse off than others which is why in coming together and looking at what we can do, pragmatically, for the short and long term, is crucial to helping each other get through this together and re-shape our future with hope and optimism.

You may find Tim Ferris’ Ted Talk on Stoicism and Fear Setting versus Goal Setting a very helpful place to start to change your mindset. Tim provides a very useful process that helps put things into perspective.

The Centre for Optimism and Optimism Cafés 

This is why I want to acknowledge the empowering and supportive work being carried out by The Centre for Optimism. Victor Perton, Chief Optimism Officer, and Robert Masters, Chair of The Centre for Optimism, have been hosting the Optimism Café webinar series all throughout the crisis where they are featuring a range of subject matter experts, thought leaders and community leaders sharing their ideas, advice, thoughts, strategies and expertise with a wide ranging community from around the world. I’ve been fortunate to be included as a panellist in other sessions as well as delivering two sessions focused on Sales and Optimism.


Here is just a sample of some of the other great topics and great people who have appeared in the Optimism Café Webinars:

  • John Kolm: Optimism, Leadership & Team
  • Robert Hillard: Optimism and Strategy
  • Charlie Hogg: Spiritual Solutions to Critical Times
  • Brilliant Women on Optimism
Watch the Optimism Cafés referred to by Sue

Enter Purposeful Optimism

By choosing to create Purposeful Optimism which our organisations we will be able to:

  • create a climate and culture of opportunity and optimism that allows people to flourish and bring their best selves and ideas to work and community
  • drive more innovation, better customer and community experiences, and better commercial outcomes by cultivating a can-do culture and finding hidden opportunities previously missed
  • embed a clear sense of purpose and agency that enables your people to pursue opportunity and build a purposefully optimistic, sustainable and prosperous future

There’s a lot to be done and a long way to go as we navigate our way to other side of COVID-19, however if we choose hope and purposeful optimism as our guiding principles, then we create the conditions for positive action and change for a better future.

For this we need strategy underpinned by optimism– a navigational system to guide and direct our efforts and that helps us look up and ahead to what we can do. 

Read more on Optimism and Strategy

Purposeful Optimism is a purposefully optimistic approach to doing business, leading communities and living our lives. It is derived from strategy and built on substance through exploring possibilities and opportunity. It is a practical philosophy and process that opens minds and helps create healthy dialogue around innovation, optimism, possibilities and opportunity. Purposeful Optimism is designed to create organisational and community prosperity now and over the long term. It’s an approach that creates a dynamic culture of opportunity and focused can-do optimism within organisations, with clients, stakeholders and communities.

Could this be the new normal? Why not? 

This gives me hope and inspires my purposefully optimistic approach to life.

The Time is NOW for taking a Purposefully Optimistic approach to business and life.


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