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How optimism can be empowering instead of wishful thinking.

This is the story of how a creed has served as the inspiration for 100 years resulting in many generations of leaders living with purpose and positivity.

In a world where we are exposed daily to global problems that need to be solved as well as serious challenges in our own lives and communities, it is easy to get caught-up and feel overwhelmed. However, what if you had a creed that could help you feel grounded and maintain an optimistic approach despite the obstacles life throws at you?

This magical creed was created 100 years ago and yet it is still very relevant today. Long before the concept of thriving was brought to the forefront of people’s conversations, the Optimist Creed by Optimist International existed. It has shaped generations of young leaders since 1919 by teaching them to look at optimism as a way of life through action, instead of an abstract idea.

My dad was one of those young leaders many decades ago whose experiences shifted the course of my family’s lives. As a child, one of my earliest memories is typing on my dad’s typewriter and asking him about the creed that prominently appeared in his office. My dad explained the creed was much more than wishful thinking, it was a blueprint of living life with purpose and positivity. The following are three parts of the creed, which will hopefully serve you well in your own life experiences.

To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.

Growing-up, I was very hard on myself and always focused on areas for improvement. While my dad supported my desire to grow, one day when I was particularly tough on myself, he sat me down and conveyed all of the ways that made me unique. As an adult, raising people up served as a foundation for lasting friendships, as well as strong relationships with colleagues and family members. It’s easy to forget in the midst of our busy days that everyone wants to feel genuinely valued in their lives. I believe we are missing the mark in our personal and professional lives by forgetting to focus on people’s strengths. When you show someone “there is something in them”, they feel empowered, safe, and able to take on new challenges.

To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.

My dad translated this concept to me by constantly responding to my troubles with “where there’s a will, there’s a way”. When I was young this could be quite frustrating to hear, but as an adult it shaped how I tackle every challenge. “NO” became a dirty word in my professional and personal vocabulary when it came to obstacles in my way. The creed teaches me to remember that when you try to find a “sunny side” or a way to create a solution, you can often transform a NO into a YES which creates a healthy environment of idea sharing and ability for people to grow in all aspects of their lives. (I hope this goes without saying, but just to be clear, in no way do I view this concept as applying to consent where NO absolutely means NO).

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

When my dad was five years old, my grandfather was killed in a car accident and life was forever changed. Although my dad could have focused on the anger and fear of his circumstances, he was thankfully surrounded by an incredible family for support and discovered the creed in elementary school along with a group of lifelong friends who through the legacy of optimism, grew-up with tremendous perspective in life that served them all extremely well.

Years later as my dad was diagnosed with cancer, he maintained his positive outlook on life and pushed away thoughts of worry, anger, fear and trouble. I had always admired his approach to life, but in the face of tough odds, my dad amazed me by how he made the most of every moment and continued to focus on the positives in life.  

When my dad passed away after losing his battle with cancer, I too was faced with a choice to turn away from optimism, kindness and positivity. However, thanks to incredible friends and the foundation of the creed, I decided to take my pain and honor my dad’s legacy through action. I went on to receive a master in business administration, invested in people that supported me along the way, built a career making a positive impact in the world, and made more time for volunteerism. 

Through the values of “thrive” and the creed, I take the time to continually evaluate my personal and professional life, which constantly leads to doors opening to new possibilities, important milestones, and reminds me to surround myself with people whose outlook in life is strengthening instead of draining.  

In your life, there will be obstacles along the way. You have a choice to find a lesson and value in every challenge you experience. My wish for you is that the Optimist Creed is a reminder to persevere and maintain a healthy perspective. Find your own creed or adopt this one if it speaks to you, because if we focus on optimism with purpose, the world will be a much better place.

The Optimist Creed is part of Optimist International © 2019

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