It’s easy to accept the standard story of the future: that it’s all going to be rubbish, that vested interests will always win out and the best you can do is get your head down, try and beat the prevailing trend and do what you can for you and yours (even if it’s at the expense of your fellow man and the environment).
Luckily there are enough human beings out there who don’t accept this story, who believe things can change for the better and crucially do something about it. Without their input down the ages we’d all still be sitting in caves. Throughout history these, often maligned, men and women have consistently come up trumps for the rest of us. These people are called “optimists.”
Optimism is a bit of a dirty word at the moment, and of course blind optimism (that dangerous cocktail of denial and hope) deserves our disdain. But pragmatic optimists, who admit the scale of the challenges ahead of us but resolve to do something about them anyway, should have more of our support.
It’s not always easy to keep optimistic. As the famous military maxim goes “no plan survives contact with the enemy”, which is why successful military leaders give those under them the freedom to improvise, but make sure they always know what the goal is. Americans call this ‘Commander’s Intent’. What I have learnt from working with some of the people who actually get stuff done is that they all have ‘Commander’s Intent’. But they don’t call it that. Instead they say, “these are my principles” or “these are my values”. When things change or difficult decisions need to be made they refer back to their principles, their ‘Commander’s Intent’.
The eight principles of successful optimists
In my experience there are a few core principles shared by pretty much anyone who is successful in making a difference. I like to call them ‘the eight principles of successful optimists’, and I believe they can help anyone ‘learn into the curve’ as we try to forge a brighter future in this new age.
Along with the awesome John-Paul Flintoff and Oliver Burkeman I’ll be exploring our uncertain futures and how these principles can be applied to live a more productive, fulfilled and happy life. It’s all happening during a one-off Saturday course (that includes beer!) in October.
As a fan of The Escape School you’ll be sure to recognise and embody some of these principles, but others might surprise you. They did me, and more importantly they changed the way I see the world and what’s possible.
Hopefully we’ll see lots of Escapees at the event!
POST EDITED BY CELIA
Follow Celia’s blog “Dared, Determined, Done!” about making big life and career changes.