Let’s embrace 2021 and share some joy!

Green shoots

It’s fair to say that over the past few weeks many of us have had to tap into a whole new level of emotional resilience. While lockdowns and vaccine roll-outs across the globe are hopefully helping to constrain the virus, the restrictions imposed on our daily lives are proving to be pretty challenging for even the most optimistic of us – it certainly is proving to be the time to dig deep and channel those inner strengths.

The renaming of the iconic game of Monopoly to Monotony at least made us have a bit of a laugh!

But, the more serious side of this is how to shrug off any sense of the hum drum and  repetitiveness of it all and maybe choose to open our eyes, and minds just that little bit wider. So, forget the gloom and doom, we’re dedicating this week’s Maier blog to ‘optimism’ – the idea or belief that outcomes will in general be positive, favourable – even desirable.

Let there be light…and rain

In speaking last week with a client who’s based in California, our disappointment at waking up to cold, grey skies every day was matched by her desperation for some rain to ensure her newly planted fruit trees didn’t wilt and die in the 80° heat. Such was our conundrum! But while it’s hard to say when (or even if) rain will arrive on the west coast of America any time soon, what we do know, is that here in the UK, Spring and the promise of warmer, longer days is just around the corner. And that has to be a good thing. You can definitely find the snowdrops peeking through now if you choose to look for them.

Who knew?

There is an ancient Celtic festival, traditionally celebrated on the 1st February called Imbolc which marks the half-way point between winter and Spring. Imbolc is all about purification and cleansing in anticipation of what’s to come and the hope of new life. People were encouraged to make pledges and promises as winter transitioned into spring and light became more abundant. As part of the ritual fires were lit to symbolise the restoring power of the sun. For the ancients Imbolc was a signal to change up routines, embrace the opportunities a new, more affable season might bring and inject a different pace into daily life. It was about optimism. We like this idea!

Embracing 2021

There has been plenty of talk about 2021 starting the way 2020 ended, with no visible difference, and yes at times it does feel that way. But 2021 is a new start and perhaps it’s time we reconnected with our Celtic elders. Spring as a season may depend on where you are in the world, but spring as the bringer of new life, new growth, an awakening from hibernation is recognised almost everywhere.

In bringing more optimism into our working lives, things we’ll be focusing on at Maier over the coming weeks will include;

  • Changing negative and/or energy sapping routines; how teams and individuals can break repetitive cycles and replenish energy tanks through a much needed change in pace (slower in some places and quicker in others)
  • Carving out time for positive forward thinking; adding optimism into the mix when planning ahead – however long or short-term that might be
  • Celebrating success – big and small, with colleagues and peers. Taking the time to acknowledge all that’s been achieved and anticipating what’s yet to come

Word has it that optimists don’t give up as easily as pessimists, and they are more likely to achieve success because of it. People with optimistic attitudes are more likely to continue working toward their goals, even in the face of obstacles, challenges, and setbacks. Such persistence ultimately means that they are more likely to accomplish their goals. You will know if you are more inclined towards one or the other but Martin Seligman’s book Learned Optimism is a good read – it’s an older one published in 2006 but pretty relevant to these times.

Haven’t read it yet? Well, Learned Optimism starts with an introduction that describes the “Pleasant Life,” “Engaged Life,” and “Meaningful Life” – three kinds of happiness that learned optimism could help you achieve.

The Pleasant Life is about amplifying positive emotion and acquiring the skills to do this

The Engaged Life is one where you discover your highest strengths and reshape your life to make the most of them – in relationships, leisure, and work

The Meaningful Life involves utilising them to “belong to and serve something you believe is larger than the self

So, as we know, with Spring also comes a rebalancing of light and dark and that’s just what we need to be doing as leaders with our teams – making sure our communications and messaging have the right amount of both. Not trivialising what are still concerning times but not painting so dark a picture as to not be able to see better times ahead.

We’ll give the final word to Victor Hugo. Les Miserables

“Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.”