Is Your Glass Half Full?


People are afraid of optimism. They know the value of it, but don’t want to get their hopes up too much, just in case things don’t work out. Expecting the worst makes it a nice surprise if you succeeded, and if it doesn’t it wouldn’t be a disappointment, right?

Strangely enough, we feel like we somehow have more control if we expect the worst. Yet, according to Martin Seligman in his book, Learned Optimism, it is the optimist who has the most power, while the pessimist feels helpless.

He says that the optimist sees disappointments, or negatives as controllable and changing. Whereas the pessimist can be paralyzed because he thinks the setbacks are permanent and dire.

Yet we can see its inordinate value by taking a look and a lesson from young children.

•Watch as they try new things expectantly.

•Observe their creativity.

•Think of how we, ourselves would have learned to walk, talk, or anything, really with a pessimistic attitude.

•Think of how much work they get done, by being optimistic.

Optimism also makes working so much more bearable. No one likes working with a grouch. We don’t get much done if someone throws a damper on everything we do, yet our creativity abounds when co-workers are encouraging, and positive.

•It reduces the level of stress experienced.

•It increases your level of productivity.

•It makes you proactive.

•It increases the likelihood of effective problem solving.


Think of how your workplace would thrive with a little optimism. Be the change. Introduce optimism to your group.

For some great optimism exercises check out Lemonade: The Leaders Guide to Resilience at Work – available at


About karlinsloan

Karlin Sloan has committed herself to finding out what makes great leaders tick, and to supporting leaders to be the change they wish to see in the world. As a corporate citizen she is an advocate for triple-bottom-line reporting, for creating sustainable ways of working and living, and for creating positive organizational communities that work together for the greater good. She is the author of the acclaimed business book Smarter, Faster, Better; Strategies for Effective, Enduring, and Fulfilled Leadership which has been translated into Thai and Russian, UNFEAR: Facing Change in an Era of Uncertainty, and co-author of the 2012 book Lemonade: The Leaders Guide to Resilience at Work. For more information see or
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