Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Does optimism make a difference?
I was surprised to read the viewer statistics for Michael J. Fox's recent TV program, "Adventures of an Incurable Optimist." The program garnered nearly 11 million viewers for that hour. Fox was exploring the idea of happiness, optimism, positive thinking and if/how it affects our lives. Clearly, his own optimism has profoundly influenced his life, especially in grappling with his Parkinson's disease. This weekend, I was visiting my parents and my 84 year old father - a life-long golfer - hesitated to accept my invitation to accompany me to the driving range to hit a bucket of balls. "I'm not as steady on my feet as I used to be," he told me. I could sense his apprehension. I mentioned to him that Michael J. Fox took up golf at 40, years after being diagnosed with Parkinson's, and he is most certainly not steady on his feet. "But he learned to make contact with the ball," I assured my father, and that's all you have to do. It might look different, it might feel different, but it's possible. So I've been thinking about where I can apply optmism to where I feel unsteady, figure out how to make contact with the ball, so to speak, change my game by ignoring fear. I tell my coaching clients frequently: you have a choice, you can choose to worry about (fill in the blank) or choose to expect good things, even though you can't predict them. Either way, time will pass, the sun will come up tomorrow. Why not choose optimism while you're waiting? I guess even in that small way - keeping us company while we wait - optimism can make a difference.