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Shantha Mohan is a Realistic Optimist

“I was lucky to be born an optimist, and I sustain that optimism with three practices. One, by being grateful for all I have. Two, by imagining the possibilities of all good things that can happen. And three, by listening to music that inspires me (Beatles, anyone?). I would say that I am a realistic optimist and acknowledge that life is not without challenges.”

That's what Dr Shantha Mohan told me when I asked her what makes her optimistic.

Shantha is an entrepreneur and author with over 30 years of experience running distributed engineering teams worldwide. Shantha is a mentor and project guide at the Integrated Innovation Institute at Carnegie Mellon Silicon Valley,  She is "passionate about humanistic leadership, using artificial intelligence in innovative solutions, gender equality, and sustainability."

Read More on Gratitude and Optimism

In an essay, "Optimism: What Every Leader Needs Today," Shantha wrote, "Optimism is contagious. When a team hears a leader say something can be done, and we can do it together, the positivity energizes the team members to pull together and deliver the best for the organization’s success. Balancing optimism by acknowledging the challenges creates a realistic environment that promotes actions and results."

Shantha writes, "Leaders also need a healthy dose of realistic optimism, which requires acknowledging the challenges while feeling positive about making an impact."

Shantha refers to the Beatle's Song "Getting Better," which is on our Music for Optimism playlist.

"In my book, Leadership Lessons with The Beatles, I devoted a chapter to optimism and titled it “Getting Better,” one of The Beatles’ songs. A friend asked me why I didn’t choose “Here Comes the Sun,” a song that conveys the essence of hope, as the title. You need hope, but we cannot expect things to be taken care of automatically. We need the drive, commitment to improving, and conviction to succeed. We need action, and we need innovations."


Shatha asks, "How Do You Lead with Optimism? " and makes four suggestions:

  • Build on Emotional Intelligence
  • See Through the Lens of Possibilities
  • Practice Gratitude
  • Take Care of Yourself


Read more on Infectiously Optimistic Leadership

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