Bob Safian, Editor in Chief of Fast Company, said: “…Uncertainty reigns as rapid change disrupts expectations and social norms. Global leadership is fractured and economic conditions fluctuate widely. Specters loom, from climate change to cyberterrorism. The relentless pace can make you want to curl up in a corner, wary of what might come next. Or you can stare unblinkingly at this time of chaos and dig into the difficult work of building a better tomorrow.”
What do you see?
What will you choose?
It all starts with opportunity and optimism*.
Opportunity is a time or set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.
Optimism is a hopefulness and confidence about the future or the success of something.
I believe, as do many leaders around the world, that optimism is ignited and thrives when real opportunities for growth and prosperity become clear.
There is opportunity everywhere if we only open our eyes and challenge ourselves to see and create it.
Starting any business or community endeavour is about harnessing opportunity, and selling is what ignites that opportunity. We see something we can address; something we can solve; something new we can bring to market; something we can do better than what’s currently on offer. Something we can grow, create customers and generate revenue and profits from.
No one goes into business thinking “this won’t work”. Being in business is an act of optimism. And business is opportunity in action. Business, opportunity and optimism are intrinsically linked.
Optimism is further ignited when real opportunities for growth and prosperity become clear to us.
Getting out and selling every day creates more opportunity. And of course we get ‘No’ along the way, but there is always opportunity right in front of us if we know what we are looking for.
This is why we need sales strategies in place, to sharpen our focus and direct us to seek out those opportunities we want to work with. Knowing what we are aiming for and knowing there is good work to be done makes it easier to get out of bed when things might be tough for us.
To make optimism and opportunity really work for us it’s important that we do not lead with blind optimism.
Blind optimism is self-deception by people who demand a sunny outlook, even when confronted with plenty of legitimate reasons to worry and they are essentially encouraging others not to be intellectually honest.
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Blind optimism is not good for business or sales. It’s not a strategy, it’s a deception.
Purposeful Optimism, on the other hand, is built on substance, which is why we need effective sales strategies with clear purpose and intent.
Purposeful Optimism is an approach to doing business that we have created at Barrett. Purposeful Optimism is derived from strategy and underpinned by well-resourced people who are enabled to pursue opportunity and do meaningful work.
Victor Perton’s book, The Case for Optimism, The Optimists’ Voices, is a great example of how leaders from all over the world value and support a culture of purposeful optimism.
Here are some quotes that illustrate what I mean:
“Optimism is at the very core of leadership. The best leaders I have encountered in my career are those that remain optimistic –- and ambitious -– for their organisations even in the face of great adversity. They are those whose optimism enables them to recognise the potential in others, and help them develop to be leaders themselves.” Dominic Barton, Global CEO, McKinsey
“People talk about tenacity and resilience and strength of character but it is optimism that drives behaviour when on some days it would be easier to say “stop – I give up, it’s too hard. Optimism is believing in the impossible and then taking the steps to make it possible.” Professor Jane Burns
As Victor says “All good leadership is optimistic”.
That is why Victor Perton and I have optimistically started The Purposeful Optimism Project which is a strategic change process that creates a culture of opportunity and focused can-do optimism within organisations that they can take to their clients and suppliers.
By choosing Purposeful Optimism for our organisations we will all be able to:
- create a climate of opportunity and optimism that allows people to flourish and bring their best selves and ideas to work
- drive more innovation, better sales and revenue outcomes by cultivating a can-do culture and finding hidden opportunities previously missed
- embed a clear sense of purpose and agency that enables your people to pursue opportunity and build a sustainable and prosperous future
Optimism keeps the light of opportunity glowing even when the world seems dark.
*Opportunity and Optimism is one of the 12 Guiding Principles of the Selling Better Manifesto
Remember everybody lives by selling something.