Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Optimism: A requirement for the job?

For a sitting CEO of any company there are good days and bad days. Days when everything is going swimmingly and days when you just can't see how to get to the very faint light at the end of the tunnel. And many times friends have said to me "I don't know how you stay so positive all the time" or words to that effect.

Well, Geronimo! Last Friday's Wall Street Journal gave me an explanation: that it is all about how my brain is wired. The article quotes sources and studies which say that "At its core, the brain is built for optimism.... Far from deforming our view of the future, this penchant for life's silver lining shapes our decisions about family, health, work and finances in surprisingly prudent ways".

I am in the fortunate position that (so long as I have had a decent amount of sleep) my glass is usually half full - I am optimistic about the future and if you present me with a problem I enjoy the sheer process of solving it. When I was younger I used to think I was just too dumb to know the difference, but now as I (gingerly) approach 50 I can see that it is a characteristic I bring to the role of CEO to navigate rocky and smooth waters.

But even I, with my optimistic nature, do understand the need for moderation in this as in all things. For as the article says

"Optimism is a little like red wine.... In moderation, it is good for you; but no one would suggest you drink two bottles a day."

As a lover of fine California pinots I would add "well maybe not every day...."


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