Riding The Waves of Uncertainty

By Andrew Grant

Over the past few years people from all walks of life in Asia have been forced to deal with crises and get on with life, no matter how tough. In the most recent of these crises, in the wake of the Tsunami tidal wave, we have all heard stories of local people in Phuket that lost everything take the shirt off their back and give it to a tourist. Or of those that have been willing to share their last liter of water with those around them.

Without negating the suffering people have gone through, what these situations have brought out is the willingness to show generosity in times of personal trauma, and the ability people have to pick themselves up and move on. This incredible resilience is something that should be documented and shared.

Seligman defines an optimist as someone who is able to bounce back from a mishap and help others. While a pessimist can become dejected and self pitying in times of trouble, finding it hard to get back up after being knocked down, optimists continue to hope and believe in the possible.

How do we find the same optimism to help us to become more resilient in unpredictable times? And how can we utilize this in our daily lives and work?

The link between optimism and performance

There has been a growing trend in personal and business development to look at how it is possible to ensure stability and high performance through challenges. The belief that individuals and organizations can continue to perform productively and minimize stress through times of crisis has been reinforced by research, and the book ‘Peak Performance’ reveals how it is possible to energize workforces to achieve higher levels and become more productive. Peak performers are defined as people whose emotional commitment enables them to consistently make or deliver outstanding products or services. They remain positive and optimistic no matter what.

The four key areas that are identified as being crucial to this development are identified as:

  1. Motivation
  2. Trust
  3. Vision
  4. Belonging

The Asian people who ‘keep on keeping on’ through these crises are, in a sense, peak performers. Their emotional commitment has enabled them to work together towards a positive common goal, and they have clearly exhibited the motivation to start again, the ability to trust in the others, a clear vision of what can be achieved, and a strong sense of belonging to a community that promotes mutual support. They are able to work in alongside others to rebuild their lives and reconstruct what has been destroyed.

In order to become more optimistic, more resilient, and ultimately more effective in your personal and professional life, you can consider how these principles apply to your situation.

To ask yourself:

MOTIVATION: What are you motivated by? Are you motivated to achieve for self-recognition, material rewards, or because you believe in a greater goal and higher principles?

TRUST: Is there an atmosphere of trust and acceptance in your organization or family? Do you personally trust those you live and work with? Do others trust you? What can be done to build trust?

VISION: Do you have a vision that stretches well beyond the immediate limitations and concerns and into what is possible in the future? Are you bogged down by current realities, or are you spurred on by the potentials of the future? Is this vision shared by those you live and work with?

BELONGING: Is there a sense of belonging in your workplace or family? Do people need and rely on each other, or are they simply existing and working side by side? Is there a feeling that everyone is ‘in this together’, and that by helping each other everyone benefits?

Perhaps we too can ride the waves of uncertainty and emerge ever stronger than before, having learnt how to keep our eyes fixed on what is possible.

© Andrew Grant (Indonesia)


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