“When bobbing for apples, an idealist endlessly reaches for the best apple, a pessimist settles for the first one within reach, while an optimist drains the barrel, fishes out all the apples and makes pie.” – Vera Nazarian
Moderation doesn’t always seem to be in vogue. Maybe that’s always been true, but it seems especially true today. Everything and everyone these days seems to operate at the ends of the spectrum.
There are probably situations or circumstances when trying to find the middle doesn’t make sense, but not very many. For the most part, going to one extreme or the other rarely is a recipe for success. I was reminded lately how that is true regarding a topic where we don’t always think about moderation – attitude.
Some people are obvious pessimists. No matter what happens, they assume it’s for the worst. People are always going to let them down, the world is always against them, they could never accomplish anything good no matter how hard they try.
Some people are obvious optimists. They’re always convinced that they’re on the verge of something great happening. Someone is going to come through for them, the circumstances they’re facing are about to change, whatever they touch will turn to gold.
While optimists at least have the benefit of not being quite as miserable, neither off the charts optimism nor bottom of the barrel pessimism make a lot of sense for leaders. You need to find the middle.
You should have a belief that you will be able to figure out a way through challenges, but you have to understand the deal with the real obstacles in the way. You should have a belief that the people you’ve surrounded yourself with are capable and terrific team members, but you have to be aware when they aren’t and be prepared to make change. You have to believe you can reach your goals, but you have to understand it won’t happen overnight, and that you have to do the right things at a high level over and over again to get there.
Think about yourself as a leader. Where do you fall on the ‘attitude spectrum’? Is everything gloom and doom? Is everything always sunny? Or do you really try to be positive about the future while being realistic about what needs to be done? If you want to lead strong and lead well, find the middle.