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The Optimist

I know where I was the first time I heard about the Optimist Club. I was in an assembly in the gymnasium at Clarence Olsen Junior High School in Woodstock, IL and some local members had come to speak to us about optimism.

I thought they were ridiculous.  The subject was too light for a bunch of kids in puberty. Too smiley.  Too positive. In my 12 year old ways, too much optimism was, in a word, stupid. I’m pretty sure I made fun of them.

But they did leave me with a gift, and that was to consider optimism in life. And in times of darkness, I have.

The Optmists have a Creed.    When I started writing this blog post, I decided to look it up.  It is the following:

Cool, eh?


Mind Mapping Optimism

Lately, I’ve been using mind mapping more often in meetings to be sure that the flow of ideas that are coming get captured in a more organic way.  With that in mind, I decided to take the idea of optimism and map it out to see where it goes and it turned out to look like this:

What do you see?

  • There is obviously a wheel, suggesting that optimism is a process.
  • There are also two sides, showing that there are at least two facets to optimism.
  • There are also many paths to optimism, showing activities, or the lack thereof. There is a suggestion that optimism takes practice.
  • Sleep is a consideration.

From a workplace perspective, there’s also benefit to optimism, from both the improved state of mind of the HR professional and the workforces impacted by HR.

Since I write to HR, for HR, I want you to think about that for a moment—being selfish for you for the benefit of others. Infectiousness.

Let me leave this right here.  What goes around, comes around.  If you want a more optimistic workforce, you have a responsibility to be more optimistic yourself. While it is still resolution season, give yourself this gift this year.

Looking for Inspiration?

For about two years, I’ve been a member of a LinkedIn group called HRPositive!  The members are a bit like an optimist club for HR.  In their words, “This is a place to feel good about your profession and the people in it!”  You can find the group at:


On the Bright Side

It is lousy out there today.  Bitter. Cold.  It is the kind of cold that beckons me inside, to lie under a heavy blanket near a warm fire, and do a whole lot of nothing. I’m really bad about wussing out when it is cold, needing inspiration sometimes to snap out of it.

I’ve always thought it is interesting that when it is this cold outside, typically it is bright and sunny. It is a reminder that there is a bright side to everything.

Bright sides aren’t always easy to see in the face of bitter cold. After all, at this point in winter, it can be a very dark place for those in the HR Profession.

Our people are facing their credit card bills.

With daylight at a premium, it is insomnia season.  Sleepy people can be very grumpy. We bear the brunt of this.

Their kids are cooped up and fighting, or worse, sick.  And they are going to bring it to work. Ugh.

It is T4 season, RRSP selection season, benefits renewal season, performance review season, and all the paperwork that drives us nuts season. By the way, isn’t it also the “aren’t we supposed to be getting rid of paperwork” season?

Photo Credit: Tony Brown, Flickr

But then there’s the bright side.

It is a new year.  After last year, there’s truly optimism in the air.

The days are getting longer every day.

Some people got some sleep over the holidays and came back fresher.  They even say hello more often, or at least their e-mails start with the words “Hello” or “Hi”.  That’s something.

Even better, some people have worthwhile and inspiring resolutions.  They’re infectious. I love reading these resolutions.  The ones for 2017 seem to be less diet focused and more activity/balanced focused.

There is time to achieve new goals.

There is a new budget.

Family Day is just 6 weeks away.

There are a lot of good indoor activities that need doing.  You know, changing the furnace filter and such.  Maybe even re-organizing a closet or two.

If you’re looking for a few ideas to look on the bright side, look here:

Me personally?  I’m putting everything on that groundhog.


There are two types of people in this world—those who do make New Year’s Resolutions and those who don’t.  I am in the do category.

I like the act of making New Year’s Resolutions.  They help me set a theme for the year.  I try to make them different each year.  Many times I achieve them.  I always give them a serious try.

I think laying them out here in public is an incentive to completing them.

So here are my 2017 resolutions.  Each one of these has significance at this point in my life.

First, I have a resolution to complete the Bruce Trail.  I made a substantial dent in 2016, but I still have about 200 kilometers to go. I want to finish it while I am physically able. The remaining terrain is a lot more challenging than what I experienced in the first 700 kilometers.  The trailhead is now several hours away and in the snowbelt.  The weather is less predictable.  When I am finished, I plan to apply for the end-to-end badge and have one hell of a party.  You are all invited.

Photo Credit: Refrigerator Interior by Philip Brewer, Flickr

Second, I have a resolution to change my interaction with food.  This isn’t a diet.  Instead, my resolution is to stop throwing away food.  We buy so much food that never gets eaten.  Essentially the goal is to avoid going to the grocery store until the refrigerator is empty.  There’ll be no mystery meat.  There’ll be no more door of unused salad dressing.  Cheese will not get moldy, unless it is supposed to be moldy.  Vegetables will not rot and make a mess in the drawer.  It is wasteful and not environmentally friendly.  I’m not sure if this is going to mean that I will gain or lose weight, although I think it means that food will be purchased in smaller sizes.  I also think it means that we will eat out less and focus on what we eat more.

Third, I have a resolution to get serious about happiness.  I want to learn more about how my fellow HR folks perceive happiness; how they find happiness personally; what elements they feel are necessary to have workplace happiness; what elements of workplace culture take away from workplace happiness.  This means I need to read more, interact more and learn more. For sure I will also be going to Workhuman this year as a way of focusing on happiness.

What are your resolutions?  How successful have you’ve been in achieving a resolution in the past?  Why or why not?