Why pragmatic optimism matters

This is my 93yo mother. She lives in an aged care facility in Melbourne, Australia. We are currently in lockdown. This is only her 4th home she has ever lived in. She raised 11 children and has over 45 grand, great-grand and great-great-grandchildren.

Throughout her life, she has served her church, our schools, our sporting clubs, scouts and other community organisations. And she never drove a car. Last week, she was asked if she would give up her room, her home so that the centre could create an isolation unit should COVID19 enter the facility. She loves her current room, her home.

Please read more if you’d like to discover what she did.

Gary RyanHer response to being asked to move was immediate, “Yes, I’m happy to serve my community. Let’s do it. I’ll be okay, we all have to help at this time so we can get through this difficult period”.

What a wonderful message. Serve others to help. Do what you can. I’m inspired by my mother – I hope you are too!

Pragmatic optimism is seeing reality for what it is, the good, the bad and the ugly. It is not catastrophising and making things worse than they are. It is seeing what needs to be done for the greater good, and getting on and doing it without complaining. These actions are taken in the context that if we do what we have to do, the situation will resolve itself. We just don’t know when that will be, but it will get better.

My mother was born before the Great Depression. She lived through the Second World War when she did not hear from my grandfather for nearly two years while he was a prisoner of war in Japan. My grandmother always told her six children, “Your father is alive. Unless we receive a letter from the government telling us otherwise, he is alive and will come home to us. We must be ready for that day when he returns.”

Imagine that. Not knowing if your father was alive or dead. A pragmatic optimist simply says, “I’ll deal with the information I have and get on with doing what I have to do. All the while I’ll maintain the faith that things will work themselves out.”

Even at 93, my mother has vivid memories of the day her father returned from the war in 1946.

These times are challenging. I encourage you to be a pragmatic optimist. Focus on what you can control. Be considerate of others. Together, we will get through this and, things will work themselves out. We will be okay.

Please feel free to share this article with your network.

Gary Ryan helps talented professionals, their teams and organisations, move Beyond Being Good®

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