We Tried That Once, It Didn't Work

A common mistake people often make is refusing to try something again that didn't work before.

On the surface trying something again that failed in the past may seem counterintuitive. The reality, however, is that outcomes are driven by many things: circumstances, the market, your audience, your company's infrastructure, and your mindset, just to name a few. If any of those things have changed over time, then something that didn't work for you five or ten years ago may work now.

Proceed with wisdom, obviously, but don't be afraid to proceed.


Originally published March 2012

What True Optimism Looks Like

A true optimist doesn't sugarcoat reality or pretend everything is okay when it's not. Optimists aren't delusional. They don't insist that everyone mask their feelings or "grin and bear it."

True optimists aren't ashamed to grieve. They do not consider talking about the real, raw aspects of life to be a sign of weakness. Instead they know that hiding these things and sweeping them under the rug and pretending everything is ok when it's not is a sign of pessimism because pessimism is defined by fear.

Optimists know that people and places and things change and that there are lessons to be learned. Optimists know that whatever is currently happening can be redeemed.

Looking on the bright side doesn't mean ignoring reality. It means insisting that what is right now is not the end. It means moving forward in a way that believes people are not defined by their circumstance.

The mantra to "put on a happy face" in the name of "positivity" is not optimism. Saying "this totally sucks right now but it's not forever and we're in this together" is.

True optimists know what real passion often looks like and that it's not always sis-boom-bah.

When it comes down to it, optimists are defined by hope. Hope is hard and it is messy. It sometimes doesn't feel all that great. It is "the long hard stupid way." It is the better way.


Originally published January 2013

Ask For The Story

In my personal life I've done quite a bit of work with kids. More often than not, when I ask a child a question and they begin to answer, a well-intentioned adult will interrupt and give a succinct explanation, ending the conversation.

The adult's behavior is easy to understand: the child's answers are often long-winded, hopping from point to point, never really touching on what I initially asked — at least not at first.

I often have to tell the adult, "I was asking because I am interested in the story, not the answer."

When you ask a child a question and then give them space to talk, you'll learn much more. More importantly, it shows them that their opinions and perspectives are valued and that they have a right to voice them.

The same thing applies to conversations with adults.

In our impatience to tick a box on a checklist, in our desire to have everything nicely tied up in a bow, in our drive to find the most efficient solutions and increase our productivity, we settle for surface conversations and miss out on the joys and benefits deep listening brings.

There's a quote I love because it proves true over and over: "A good listener helps us overhear ourselves."

Ask people questions and then give them space to talk.


Originally published January 2015