One of the common traits I have witnessed among most Momentum women is how optimism fuels their resilience. Each and every graduate of our executive leadership program carries tremendous responsibilities on her shoulders. Her career is full tilt. She is responsible for many lives around her: her children, her spouse, her parents, and a large team at work. We see a fair amount of challenge and even tragedy hit at this stage in life: A child seriously injured. Death of a parent. Loss of a spouse. A cancer diagnosis. A re-org at work.
Even with the great difficulties life throws at them, these women are optimistic.
I think there may be some genetics involved with optimism, but mostly I believe optimism a learned trait. These women learned early on that the world may say that you can do anything, but you actually have to clear lots of hurdles to accomplish lofty goals. You also have to really want to reach your goal to make clearing those hurdles worth the effort. I’ve never seen anyone develop the deep drive and passion to do big things based on pessimism. Great leaders focus on positive outcomes, and perhaps it’s that very optimism that keeps them going in the face of adversity.
Optimism is also contagious. In group experiments that we do during our training, we confidentially seed a control group with an optimistic player. Those groups quickly become more optimistic as a whole, cooperate better, and arrive at better outcomes. “I’ve always been motivated by optimism–my own and the people who have made such a huge impact on my life,” says Patti Lovoy, Momentum Alumnae and Director of Development at the Lakeshore Foundation. “The positivity of the people who assumed I could do something, even if I thought it was a stretch, really fueled me,” she says. “Every single day at Lakeshore, I see a culture of ‘of course I can do it,’ it spreads, and it is powerful,” she said.
We all have to acknowledge reality, but we can choose to focus our energy on solutions, opportunity, progress and growth. Momentum women do that very well.