As a youngster, I was a combination of baseball fanatic and nerd. I was a big kid, so when I took the mound, I could wing it. Me with my huge black glasses and dorky, oversized frame. For a short while, I was a Little League god. I also loved things like reading history books and biographies. Learning was not a chore for me, it was a passion. Think a very young wanna be Nolan Ryan meets Poindexter.
Somewhere in my middle school years, I won a speech contest. The prize was a laminated and framed copy of the Optimist’s Creed. I read it back then (the mid-1970s) and put it away in a drawer. After college, while going through boxes to throw stuff out, I found the plaque sitting there, gathering dust. I reread it. At that time (1982), the economy sucked – high inflation, slow growth, limited job openings. I was a new grad and searching for my first real job. I was stuck back at home and applying and getting rejected for job after job. I was neither happy nor optimistic.
But I remember spending an afternoon back in ’82 reading and thinking about the words in the Optimist’s Creed. It begins with, “To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.” Really think about that statement. What it means, the implications. To me, if I want to follow this philosophy, it means I cannot ever label myself as a victim, I cannot wallow in self-pity, I must be calm under all circumstances, and I must have internalized a belief in my self-worth.
I don’t know about you, but for me 2020 has been a damned nightmare. That said, I’m still breathing. My wife and kids are alive and well, but they are also working through tremendous challenges. No doubt, my peace of mind has been disturbed, to the max, at times during 2020.
As business owners, we do not have the luxury of wallowing in negative thoughts or feelings. If we do that, we might as well just throw in the towel and sign on to sell lumber at Home Depot. Yet it is tough – really, really tough – to get up in the morning and face the day when you’ve incurred devastating losses due to a lockdown, civil unrest, or a faltering economy. On top of that, America is topsy-turvy politically. What used to pass for common sense – a belief in America’s greatness as a nation, capitalism, law and order – has now become anathema to the “woke” crowd that dominates most of our media.
Whatever happens to me, I know that I can pull through and come out standing on the other side. I believe this with every ounce of my being. Why? Because I read the Optimist Creed? No, because I’ve made it through so much in my life, I know it’s true.
Be honest with yourself. Do you have the rock-solid belief, I know that I know that I know, that you can endure any hardship? If you don’t believe this, I encourage you to read Tony Robbins or even the Mayo Clinic’s work on the power of positive thinking. In tough times, like right now, this is your bedrock. Everything you do is built on a solid foundation if you are sure that you’ll get through any hardship and overcome any challenge put in front of you.
Remember that wanna be Nolan Ryan/Poindexter guy I mentioned in the first paragraph? When he was 16, he realized that he did not have the talent or the eyesight to play baseball past high school. For a week or so, he thought life was over. Then he realized, you know what? There may be more to life than baseball. While he remains a rabid MLB fan to this day, that guy learned that when one door closes in life a hundred more open.
Whatever you’re enduring in your business right now, look at your situation square in the eye. Don’t flinch. Make the best decision for you and your family. Maybe you need to consider moving on to the next opportunity like Nolan Ryan/Poindexter did. Perhaps you need to put it all on the line and endure the current crisis and see your business through to the other side.
No matter what you choose to do, have faith and confidence that you’ll make it. Life is not over. No matter your age, gender, race, or current challenges, you will always have a future if you chose to believe in the power of optimism.