The Power of Optimism During Cultural and Economic Change

May 04, 2020

As the global health crisis continues to cause economic and social repercussions, people struggle with financial insecurity, isolation, and concern for their health and the health of loved ones. Shalom Saada Saar, Samuel N. Friedland Executive Management Professor of Professional Practice at Miami Herbert, reminds us of the power of optimism during trying times.

Overcoming Fear
Society undergoes a period of anxiety and fear. Small business owners and medium-sized company managers, for example, face mounting layoffs, lower than expected revenues, shrinking profitability and market share, and declining consumption. Yet amid difficulties, Saar emphasizes, staying hopeful and committing to making the best of the situation will enable us to meet perhaps the biggest challenge: keeping a positive mind.

Taking Control of the Mind
Staying positive begins with recognizing our own mental acrobatics when confronted with change. One lets go of a trapeze expecting the next one to be there. Just the same, a change ideally leads us into new but understood territory. A laid off worker, for instance, moves ahead by searching for new work. Instead, many furloughed workers today feel uncertain about their employment status and wonder when they will have their jobs back. The current crisis presents no clear outcome or definitive timeframe, leaving the mind in an “acrobatic spin” of worries and distress, compounded by health concerns for ourselves and those around us.

We can surpass the mental tumbles by first having a clear understanding that the pandemic is finite; it will indeed come to an end. In the meantime, we must prioritize optimism by exercising willpower over thoughts and emotions. Proactive steps, such as communicating and expressing our concerns with family or friends and keeping a written diary of our struggles, may help strengthen bonds and our resolve.

Rising to the Occasion
The leadership coach reminds us that, when times become difficult, the American spirit rises to the occasion. Kindness and understanding of one another empowers us to not only overcome, but also grow stronger and better at embracing our future. We can take charge of our own mind and move forward with positivity, and perhaps find unexpected prosperity at the other side of change.

For additional COVID-19 Thought Leadership and business resources from Miami Herbert Business School faculty, click here.

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