A friend has recently taken it upon himself to accumulate and then share quotes, on a daily basis, that are intended to provide a source of inspiration. Today’s offering is one that; while most everyone is familiar with the principle, was an important reminder to me that there are lens’ through which we observe our worlds do, from time to time, require adjustment. The quote is one from Winston Churchill:
“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.”
This same principle is often expressed through the concept of a glass half-full or half-empty and reminds us that no situation: personal, familial, business or other organisations to which we may be a part, should only be viewed from one perspective, and that while the situation may initially present itself as our biggest challenge, that challenge will indeed offer as many opportunities for growth as it does draw from our physical, emotional or indeed spiritual reserves.
In the business world this principle really sits at the heart of what we call Transformational Engagement – Business Transformation through increased Employee Engagement – and one of the key roles of leaders and managers within organisations is to help employees to make that lens adjustment, if adjustment is required.
Of course not every leader or manager is a natural optimist; however, one of the primary responsibilities, and therefore skills that leaders need to develop, is that of interpreting changes that are taking place in the external environment that are relevant to the organisation and helping the organisation to adjust to these changes in a timely manner (ie. before the competition or market shift that it will cause) that creates a new opportunity for growth.
This constant adjustment of the narrative associated with the vision or purpose of the organisation is key to shepherding employees in aligning their priorities to the shifting priorities of the organisation and is an important day-to-day responsibility of line-managers within the organisation to spot the warning signs that employees are feeling overwhelmed (or pessimistic) about their role and using this narrative to help them adjust their lens and keep on track.
We probably all have times when we feel overwhelmed by what seems like the enormity and impossibility of the day-to-day challenges that lie before us and therefore the timely and poignant reminder of the wisdom of a leader who not only helped a nation, but a coalition of nations through probably the biggest challenge that our world has ever faced, can hopefully help us take that step back, look for the potential for growth and find a new path through the looming clouds to the opportunities that lie beyond.