By Dr. Russ,
In continued celebration of a year of daily blogging since last April of 2009, I am posting this encore presentation on building a culture of optimism in an organization.
Dr. Russ Buss has attempted to synthesize some core principles of optimism presented by Michael J. Fox in his new book, Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist, that can serve as guidelines for building and maintaining an Optimistic Organization; one that exudes a “Culture of Optimism.”
1. The Optimistic Organization actively counteracts negativity with positivity. The organization imbues the attitude and belief that it is not what happens to you, but how you view it that matters. As Michael J. Fox has taught us: We may not always have a choice about some of our circumstances in life, but we always have a choice about how we view them.
2. Optimistic workplaces create environments where everyone can share and exchange creative ideas; where individuals can explore, experience and immerse themselves in states of “relaxed-detachment” to promote creative incubation.
3. An Optimistic work-culture empowers individuals to accept, embrace, and deal with change. Adapting to change is viewed as an opportunity for individual and organizational growth. Training and development programs teach and prepare individuals to let go of outdated and now dysfunctional habits and personas, while actively supporting a workplace belief that the “inner self” can mount the effort and ability necessary to take on tough challenges.
4. Optimistic Organizations are not afraid to take risks. The culture encourages and empowers value-based, reasonable risk-taking, i.e., no short cuts, bring out best efforts and abilities people have to offer.
5. Every individual in the optimistic organization believes they have a purpose and mission within the organization. The individuals can endorse the statement: My organization actively promotes: “The purpose that you wish to find in life requires the faith to take risks and a rejection of the bonds of fear; purpose is something for which one is responsible.” (Michael J. Fox, P. 178) Individuals are valued for efforts at self-improvement and constant re-birth and self-reinvention.
6. Optimistic organizations train and make available role models of optimistic thinking to provide guidance and mentoring to new and old employees. Note: The best golfers in the world are known to take more golf lessons everyday than the amateurs who could really use them. So, to maintain Great Optimism we need ongoing Optimistic Mentoring. The environment is one in which the individual is extremely comfortable, without any fear of stigma and ridicule, in seeking and asking for help anytime, anywhere.
7. Optimistic Organizations avoid “Group Think” by actively encouraging the expression and debate of a variety and opposing perspectives. When such a culture of diversity of input exists, individuals more naturally take responsibility for their choices, work hard to implement them, accept that a revision of choice and goals are needed when progress is limited, and are not afraid to make the “tough choices.”
8. In evaluating the individual’s strengths and weaknesses the Optimistic Organization does “performance appraisal” in the optimistic manner: assessment of strengths and weaknesses is done relative to accomplishment of specific short and long term goals – Task Orientation Focus. The performance appraisal is not done in a pessimistic manner where the assessment of strengths and weaknesses is done relative to a personal or ego comparison: how the individual “stacks up” against other individuals or some ideal (but unrealistic) persona – Ego Orientation Focus.
9. Optimistic organizations take the “high road” when making decisions, sticking to the core values and principles of “Optimism.”
10. Optimistic Organizations recognize the core importance of stable family structures to the maintenance of an optimistic perspective in life and in the organization - each and every moment. As such, they promote policies that encourage family time together, teach core communication skills that help families work to stay together, and provide mutual support to the members.