I’m an optimist!

Yup, that’s me! If I had to pick just one attribute that I believe defines my approach to life, it would have to be…

Optimism (n) – the tendency to take the most hopeful or cheerful view of matters or to expect the best outcome.

As far as I’m concerned most of what needs to be done can be accomplished with a combination of optimism, determination, flexibility, and a lot of good old-fashioned elbow grease.

Looking back over the years, I realize how fortunate I am that I often seemed to be in the right place and time to take advantage of a number of truly life changing opportunities. I also readily admit that advice, encouragement, and support from family, friends, and co-workers made it much easier for me to commit to these opportunities.

In my opinion, most good fortune doesn’t simply happen. Rather, it depends on a person’s awareness of and readiness for the next opportunity, the next challenge. This is true for both personal endeavors and in the workplace. In the workplace, initiative usually appeals to supervisors because it demonstrates that an employee is willing and able to do more than is required by his or her job description. Recognizing and rewarding that extra commitment often leads to job enrichment assignments that, if nothing else, can make one’s job more interesting but may also result in being tapped for extraordinary opportunities.

My nomination and subsequent selection for a Navy-sponsored distance learning MBA program is a prime example. I had just received my bachelor’s degree (after nearly 25 years of on again, off again college coursework) when my boss called me into his office and told me he would like to nominate me for this program if I was willing to be considered. I can’t say I was anxious to continue with school, but the combination of his confidence in me and the prestige and challenge this opportunity represented proved to be irresistible. And, of course, it turned out that being selected was the easy part: what followed was nearly three years of trying to keep up with a demanding combination of family and home, a full-time job, and coursework commitments. It wasn’t an easy experience and I frequently thought about dropping out of the program, but I didn’t want to disappoint the people who supported me or, even more important, give up on myself!       

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence. ~Helen Keller

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