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Snowdrops – the epitome of realistic optimism

Realistic optimism in action

Realistic optimism in action

I came across this curious phrase this week – realistic optimism.

Blind optimism rarely has it’s roots in reality. But realistic optimism is not only believing that you will succeed, but at the same time, believing that you have to work to make it happen.

Spring is tantalisingly close, and these snowdrops for me epitomise this realistic optimism. Knowing that success for them is to get their heads above ground, and point the way to brighter days and cheerier landscapes, but at the same time keeping small and low to avoid being trampled, squashed under mud or snow, and requiring too much precious winter sunshine to be sustained.

The path to success for them is rocky – often, quite literally. A fair amount of effort is involved in getting through the cold, hard ground of winter. But persevere they do, year on year, bringing cheer, and hope of better days to come.

Anyway, I risk extending the analogy too far.

But realistic optimism is an important attribute when working towards anything in life. Believing that success will land in our laps without any effort is naive at best, and at worst, destructive – for you and for those around you.

And if it did, would it mean as much without the effort to get there?

We display realistic optimism instead when we choose to believe that what we are seeking to do will succeed, and we are fully aware of how rocky and challenging the path to success is likely to be. Effort, planning, persistence, and good choices will be required.

Sometimes, going forward with what we want to do in life can feel a bit like pulling ourselves up by the shoe laces.

Self motivation can lose it’s sheen.

And it can be all to ease to give in to negative thoughts – worst case scenario thinking. Negative thoughts can be useful in enabling us to see pitfalls and challenges in what lies ahead. However, that negativity can also suck the motivation out of us, and lead us down the road to fear.

But we are in control of our emotions, not the other way round – that fear can be a prompt to identify what we are choosing to believe, and replace those negative thoughts with more positive ones.

How to do that?

We take time to create an image of the success we want to achieve. And in addition, see all the steps on the path to get there, so that we are more prepared for what lies ahead. In so doing, we combine a positive attitude with a realistic evaluation of the situation we face, and the challenges that we are likely to encounter. And that allows us to take ownership of our situation and put into practice what you know you can do that will make a difference.

It was John F Kennedy who said:

Don’t ask ‘why’. Instead, ask ‘why not?’

Imagine if the snowdrops thought – we’ll pop out of the ground just by magic, and it will all be wonderful. We’ll triumph over winter!

Or equally – it’s too hard, too cold, too snowy, too dark, we’ll just stay here in our bulbs, and give up.

Either way, the end result is no snowdrops – those most pretty of flowers and bringers-of-hope.

We choose to believe that we can succeed, and we recognise that it will be hard work. Therein lies the road to fulfillment, resilience and growth. Realistic optimism – our choices of course are all about us being proactive in the situations we are in.

Perhaps you are struggling to create a clear image of what you want your particular success to look like?

Or that dream is well established but you don’t know how to get there – realism is too often trumped by pessimism and inertia.

I can help! Get in touch and we can work on this together.

 

Inspired? Encouraged? Get in touch!

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