A Lesson in Extreme Optimism
The last few months have been nothing short of a little nuts for most people with “a little” being long forgotten. Some have lost jobs, careers, and have had to push themselves to redefine who they are, and what they stand for.
I am also in that boat. I fought for ten years to build a web design and digital marketing agency only to watch my target market forced into extinction by lockdowns over fears about a “virus” with a 99% recovery rate. One of the fundamental rules of business is “if my clients go out of business, I go out of business.”
When I am in extreme scenarios, I turn to the lessons of history to find solutions that work for me. I found this little gem when I was listening to Dr. Dolf de Roos’ Wealth Magnet CDs I bought many years ago. I don’t remember much more about those CDs but I remember this story. In searching for the story title recently, I find it attributed to my former commander-in-chief Ronald Reagan. If there ever was an optimist, Reagan would have been in that category. Donald Trump also embodies eternal optimism during extreme circumstances.
“If you’re going through Hell, keep going.”-Sir Winston Churchill
A man and a woman fall in love, get married, and start a family. They have twin boys and they are identical in every respect. Except one. One of the boys is a pessimist. No matter how good things get, he can only see the dark side of things. The other boy is the eternal optimist. No matter how bad things get, he can only see the bright side of things.
The parents go to a psychologist to see what they can do to make the boys the same, the pessimist a little more realistic and the optimist also a little more realistic. They think that would make them both “normal.”
The psychologist has an idea. He says “Tell the boys that you have presents for each of them. Fill one room with the best toys you can buy and fill the other room with horse manure. Take the pessimist to the room filled with toys and the optimist to the room filled with horse manure. That should do the trick.”
The parents look at each other, shrug, and follow the psychologist’s recommendations.
First, they take the pessimistic boy to the room filled with toys. He opens the door and looks around and gets a sad look on his face.
The parents ask “What’s wrong? Aren’t you excited about all the toys to play with?”
The little boy replies “Yeah, that’s great but I can’t play with them. I’ll only break them.”
Then, the parents take the eternal optimist and take him to the room filled with horse manure. He opens the door and jumps in the horse manure scoping through it with his hands.
“Good Lord, what are you doing?” the baffled parents ask.
The boy smiles and replies “With all this horse manure, there must be a pony in here somewhere.”
Optimism is the Cure for a Lot of Things
The Reader’s Digest used to have a section called “Laughter is the Best Medicine.” I haven’t seen a copy of the reader’s digest in years, or even decades. But what if this is true?
Some of the more extreme military units and training arenas have the phrase “Embrace the suck.” Basically, what this means is that no matter how hard things get, no matter how tired you are, keep digging deeper to find the strength to persevere. Keep moving. It’s the only way things will get better.
If you are fighting to keep a smile on your face, remember this story. It reminds me to think about all the challenges others have overcome and those I am inspired by.