News and Insights

Glass Half Empty? Glass Half Full?

August 5, 2019

Not Sure? Get Some Perspective!

People’s view of life’s challenges and opportunities influence how they build community culture. Those who see the world through the lens of scarcity tend to believe that there is never enough to go around. They experience winning or losing as though their business will “live or die” at each moment. Another might perceive a colleague’s mistake as a moment to chastise rather than a teaching opportunity. Perspective is more than just “how we see things.” Perspective is a launch pad for creating winning cultures and communities. 

Recently, a close colleague, Kristie Kuhl, was asked how her long-awaited (and well-deserved) vacation was going.  She answered: “Our vacation apartment is far from what was advertised; but, it’s great to have the family together. We’re having a wonderful time.” Her response was absolutely no surprise, because her perspective is always one of “glass half full.” Her outlook that the world holds tremendous opportunity is positively infectious. People who work with her lean into challenge with a smile and exhibit unity that transforms individuals into high-performing teams. Perspective is more than how we see the world – it’s how we invite people into our world.

Bill Taylor, cofounder of Fast Company and author of Simply Brilliant: How Great Organizations Do Ordinary Things in Extraordinary Ways writes in his Harvard Business Review piece The Best Leaders See Things That Others Don’t. Art Can Help, “I don’t often start essays about leadership with insights from French novelists, but in this case it seems appropriate. ‘The real act of discovery,’ Marcel Proust wrote, ‘consists not in finding new lands but in seeing with new eyes.’ Today the most successful companies don’t just outcompete their rivals. They redefine the terms of competition by embracing one-of-a-kind ideas in a world of copycat thinking. Which means, almost by definition, that the best leaders see things that other leaders don’t see.”  Perspective!

Peter Finn, a business leader and philanthropist, believes art can transform people’s lives. He and his wife, Sarah, were touched by the beauty of New York’s Catskills Mountains. They also saw its economic decline and the urgent need to find a new path for the community’s renewal. While some residents had abandoned their homes, the Finns found a solution that both protected the land and galvanized its residents. His unusual solution was rooted in the arts – performing arts, visual arts, studio arts, literary arts and film! Today, the Catskills communities of Hunter and Tannersville are alive with shops, inns and, of course, art. Glass half-full thinking!

If you’re thinking about the next steps to take in the next chapter of your life, look around you and consider these four questions:

  1. Are you surrounded by imaginative people? Imagination is a must in work and life – it’s the spark of new ideas and opportunities. If the people around you see change and challenge as disaster and risk, they are likely to be glass half-empty people. Think twice about surrounding yourself or being led by those types of people.
  2. Does every mistake mean the sky is falling? We work hard and seek to succeed. Sometimes, it’s not good enough and things just don’t turn out as expected. Are people chastised for their mistakes? Or, does your leadership look for what can be learned going forward? If so, their perspective is glass half-full.
  3. Does the organization pit me against you? Some leaders perceive that their title makes them the smartest person in the room. If that’s the case, everyone else is dumber! Inspiring and optimistic leaders recognize that it’s swim together world. Their perspective is that composite IQ – collective smarts – is the most powerful asset of a winning community.
  4. Are both short-term and long-term goals considered? People with a “glass half full” perspective appreciate the need to deliver short-term results; however, they know that imagining and sharing a vision for the future can unite people. They will both acknowledge the need for quarter-to-quarter outcomes and keep the long-term game in view. They consistently find balance and offer encouragement.

If you’re looking for meaning in your life, consider whether those you join have an optimistic “perspective.” Do they dedicate themselves to social causes and community? Have they been able to weather rough spots together? Did they face challenge and come through it as a stronger community? Look beyond the stats! Find perspective – you may learn something that will change your life in amazing ways. Cheers to the glass half-full people!

POSTED BY: Gil Bashe

Gil Bashe