Many people have that wonderful tendency to be optimistic which makes them encouraging to be with. It seems that often those same people have difficulty being reliable. Others are not so optimistic, but you can take always count on them.
But where is that rare person who is both optimistic AND reliable?
Beyond doubt, both optimism and reliability are admirable qualities. Both are great behaviors that benefit others. Either of these makes you easier to work with, live with, and easier to follow. Let’s examine why.
Optimism is a proven versatility function. People who exhibit high levels of this, statistically get promoted faster, lead teams better, and coach others better. They inspire and energize people and projects by helping others dispel fear and doubt. Of course, you can be inappropriately optimistic. If there is bad news to deliver and it’s your job to deliver it, don’t sugar coat it. It might not be understood. But many other times, even in the face of disaster optimism works well. I understand the band continued to play on the deck of the sinking Titanic.
Reliability means we can take them at their word. When they say they’ll do it, it’s as good as done. They are a known quantity. They keep their commitments and they might even keep commitments that other people make. They make true the lies that others make and correct the mistakes that others make. Their words and actions are consistent.
So why do these two behaviors rarely show up in the same person? Are they mutually exclusive? Well, almost.
Optimism depends on believing in conditions that doesn’t yet exist. That’s the definition of optimism. They might have very good reason to believe those conditions will exist and we hope they do. But many times even though the chances are less than 100%, the optimist believes in them anyway. I highly suggest you believe in your children. Whether they are 3 months or 30 years old, it benefits you and them if you believe they will choose good outcomes in the future, although that’s not 100% certain.
For this reason and others, the optimist sometimes make commitments that they want to complete but don’t manage events toward that completion. So they tell unintentional lies.
In contrast, reliable people tend toward being careful and skeptical. They don’t risk believing in untrue conditions but are more concerned with fulfilling commitments that can be fulfilled. They want to keep firmly rooted in reality. Credibility is a priority. You cannot succeed as a business leader or in a family if you don’t keep your word.
These people exhibit skepticism which looks like pessimism. They often say they are being “realistic” not pessimistic. And they are. Others just don’t see it that way. They rarely inspire and energize people.
So what’s the solution? Well, first to recognize your own tendency. “Know thyself” is the classic advice. Then see what small changes you can make to improve.
If you tend towards optimism, check your facts another time and temper your excitement a little to show you do see some possible pitfalls. Really looking for them is a great exercise. And let them see you looking.
If you’re reliable, think about what could be. Encourage out of the box thinking by yourself and with others. “Act as if” in situations that aren’t life or death (most aren’t). Allow free thinking even when it runs around the bizarre.
The idea is to be optimistic and reliable. Of course you’re going to be more one than the other – you’re human. But adding a little of the other trait might just make a huge difference in your results.
Social Style training really addresses this. If you’d like to discuss how please contact me. I can help facilitate this in your company. Thanks
Let me know. Bob R