Friday, September 10, 2021

The Hunt for Optimism



Here we are, at the end of a complicated and challenging summer of 2021 and now more than ever it seems hard to find “rays of hope” to help fuel a spirit of optimism from any angle.  Whether through the lens as a leader, a father, a husband, or a simple citizen, we seem to be surrounded by tough news and challenging, pessimistic voices on all sides.  Earlier this week I met with a work colleague that I hadn’t seen since “before Covid” and we spent the first 45 min of our coffee together (outside and socially distanced) venting/sharing what the past 17+ months have been like trying to lead companies during this extremely challenging time.  While the “venting” was probably cathartic, I left the time at the coffee shop down and depressed, more immersed in the problem statement of today, “hunting for optimism” from other sources.


As I have mentioned before, “optimism” is vital in many applications, but as a leader it is fundamental!  If you aren’t hopeful and optimistic about the road ahead for your organization/company, how can your team pick up that slack.  I am historically a “glass half full” kind of guy, but these past 17+ months have really challenged that historic paradigm and I have found myself often searching for a few “rays of light” of “green shoots” as sources of encouragement to raise my flagging spirits.


It’s in this context that I wanted to share a few results from my “hunt” that come from a range of sources/data sets that are giving me a touch of hopefulness as we head into the fall of 2021.  The following three examples are not meant to be a broad spectrum of insights, or in any way a complete “world view” of our current reality; they are just three points of data lifting my spirits a touch on a busy Friday morning:



Ø  “We may have crested the peak of the Delta Variant”

o   This Covid trends table is published daily in the N.Y. Times.  I have been tracking the “14-day change” metrics daily for many months and it is exciting to see the numbers turn negative this week.  While this doesn’t mean we may not have another spike, a downward trend is a VERY good sign!


Ø  “An incredible number of people were safely evacuated from Afghanistan since the fall of the Government

o   When I saw this report by CNBC of over 120k people (and growing) safely evacuated since 8/14 I was blown away.  The fall of Kabul and the legacy of the 20 yr. war in Afghanistan will be a very rough chapter in our country’s history, but this accomplishment is beyond heroic and inspiring!


Ø  “The world is making real progress on global poverty”

o   The World Bank tracks global poverty rates broadly, by region and by country.  While the Covid pandemic has certainly challenged these trends in the past year or so, the multi-decade trend is not to me missed.


I will leave you with those three ideas for today…. Do your own “hunting” and make sure you don’t ONLY read the negative headlines and bad news stories in your news feeds (remember, fear and tragedy sell) …. Do the extra work and find a few positive trends and data points to keep your spirits up and find an optimistic path towards tomorrow!