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Half empty or half full

BUSINESS MATTERS (BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE) - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - March 6, 2021 - 12:00am

“Is the glass half-empty, or is the glass half-full?” You have heard it all before, and it comes in different versions.

Illustrating the different perspectives of either being an optimist or pessimist. I came across this material that adds two more personalities into the picture.

A person in a lab coat places a glass half-filled with a yellow liquid in front of four people.

Immediately, the first person pipes up, “Ah, I see the glass is half-full!” This person is an optimist.

The second person states, “Naw man, why would he bring us a half-full glass? He drank some. It’s now half-empty.” This person is a pessimist.

The third person scoffs, “Why must you two argue? It’s just a glass with liquid in it.” This person is a realist.

While the three of them bicker, the fourth person grabs the glass and downs the liquid. With a wipe of their sleeve, they exclaim, “I got thirsty listening to you guys, so I drank the liquid in the cup!” This person is an opportunist.

The person in the lab coat lets out an audible gag before running to a nearby toilet and losing his lunch.

This person is a urologist.

Many speakers mean well. In webinars, they are now encouraging people to maintain an optimistic point of view. They want people to be hopeful, and I do too. The only difference is that I am still active in doing business, so my optimism is tempered by realism, and I have an extreme dislike for toxic positivity. One quick search through Google identifies “toxic positivity” as a belief that people should maintain a positive mindset no matter how dire or difficult a situation is. It’s a “good vibes only” approach to life; this is, of course, dumb and unrealistic. Although well-intended, it produces a negative effect. People get their hopes so unrealistically high, and when expectations are not met, they dive dangerously low. This approach is dangerous for decision-making.

On the other hand, some people would adopt the pessimistic view thinking that in doing so, they have anticipated the worst, and nothing can surprise them anymore. This, too, would not be wise. As the attention fixated on the bad, the eyes would miss out on opportunities.

In her brilliant book entitled “Uncharted,” Margaret Heffernan says: “Optimists aren’t idiots. They do better in life, live longer, healthier, more successful lives for the simple reason that they don’t ignore problems or give up easily.”

Optimists accept the terrible news and understand that it is not permanent and that things can improve. It takes the position of understanding that bad news is not universal as some good news is happening somewhere else. They see the problems, do not deny their existence but anticipate improvement. They have a fighting spirit. Pessimists may avoid problems while the optimist copes and solve. They are especially productive because optimists are more likely to collaborate and trust others, giving them more capacity and resilience than they could possess alone.

Many might become pessimistic with the unwelcome virus’s prolonged presence in their views and others have given up hope. And this is not a good thing. Leaders should continue to offer encouragement and build up their people’s courage to deal with change and challenges. Never has the sheer creativity of human interaction been more critical and needed as it is today. We have a vast capacity for the invention if we use it. We have a limitless talent for questions and exploration. If we develop it, we can imagine what we never have, but only if we do not give up hope.

I consider myself more on being the optimistic type through the years of my entrepreneurial journey. Not all endeavors were bright and rosy, but every experience offered lessons to be learned and opens up opportunities to try new things.

It has been said that a pessimist sees only the tunnel.

An optimist sees the light at the end of the tunnel.

A realist thinks the light is probably inside the tunnel.

I tend to believe that optimists make mistakes, but they have a lot more fun with the experience. A pessimist would find it extremely difficult to have fun in the process. And therefore, some wag also said that: “Optimists hope that we live in the best world.

Pessimists fear that this is actually the case...”

(Connect with Francis Kong at www.facebook.com/franciskong2. Or listen to “Business Matters” Monday to Friday at am and 6:30 p.m. over 98.7 dzFE-FM ‘The Master’s Touch,’ the classical music station.)

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