Scheduled Optimism

Each year, within a general period of a few days, people from all parts of the Earth establish formal and informal goals, resolutions and aspirations for the upcoming year. It is multi-cultural and multi-denominational and non-gender oriented process of renewal.

It has become generally accepted that through these aspirations we believe that we can do/be more/different that we are. We are optimistic about our role or our realization of a better future state. We commit to this optimism, (albeit with great variance and therefore variable success.) Additionally we reconcile the past year to ‘close it’ or ‘file it away’, to make space for a ‘fresh start.’ We give ourselves permission to ‘start again’ with a ‘clean slate’ or ‘new page’ in the ole’ book of life.

We do this as individuals. We sometimes do this in written form and sometimes we share it with those we love. We rarely if ever consider if not act upon the impact of collective optimism.

What if we, as a global group of resolvers, synchronized or shared our optimism more intentionally during this time? To give energy to our thinking. To create a collective of thoughts. To connect our ideas associated with this thinking time. What if we could connect more and more resolutions together, at the same time? What if we did so with more frequency?

Sharing

When we determine our aspirations for the new year, we engage in thinking. I believe thinking creates energy. Thinking is not doing.

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Wintery sunset over western Nebraska. December 2017

The power of shared thinking creates multiplication of this energy. Not in like or same thinking but in sharing of thoughts. Sharing of thoughts does not equal clicking ‘like’ or even posting a blog. Sharing indicates a meaningful exchange.

Consider sharing a piece of cake. You don’t just drop off a piece of cake at someone’s door or say that someone’s cake looks yummy. Sharing a piece of cake indicates that you each have a fork and partake of the morsels together in a likely exchange of bites until the last crumbs are crushed into one set of tines.

What might be possible if instead of just clicking ‘like’ or reshare, we sat down with two forks and one plate and shared a thought at a time? Each taking an intentional chunk of a thought and considering it’s flavor. 

Ideas

Thinking inevitably is a space for ideas to emerge, to coalesce, to evolve. Our thinking time becomes a multiplication of energy with a future return – not only do we develop aspirations or goals, but new considerations and possibilities unfold from this ‘fresh start’ space. Ideas spur creativity, which spurs innovation, which solves small and large problems. Ideas will float around the universe until they find an ‘owner’ to help them develop. If you have ever felt like “hey, I thought of that! how did he know?!” then you experienced an idea that got tired of waiting for you to ‘get aroundtuit’ or for you to have the perfect time to think more about it.

What might be possible if instead of waiting for the perfect time or the affirmation we expect, we could connect our same ideas with other individuals, at the same time (or close) as we are having them? Instead of an idea finding one owner, the idea would find a family of owners. 

Volume

There are nearly 7.6 billion people alive on the earth today. Births are doubling deaths each day and so our population is continuing to grow. We read and speak with frequency of the burden of food shortages and the many associated wicked problems of population growth. We do not read or speak of the opportunities that exist if we shared in defining wicked problems together. Imagine the collective optimism that is possible from connecting individual aspirations together like a web or system of webs. With technology we are connected in ways that are called ‘share’ but are the opposite. Through this same technology we could truly share – thinking, ideas and therefore energy across these thoughts. We could address all wicked problems with collective force.

What might be possible if instead of passive judgement of the world’s most pressing problems, we contributed our own thinking to a collective of thousands of individuals, an idea, thought or concept as the focus? Participation would require a position, a thought but also a commitment to a new definition of community. 

Frequency

Based on the calendar and years of cultural acceptance, we greet the new year with affirmation and optimism. We set goals of all types and scale. We resolve to improve ourselves. Our organizations engage in ‘annual planning’ (or some do and some do less often.) Yet the majority of us fall back into our reactive, responsive, ways. Serving immediate gratification over long-term well-being benefits of extended life expectancy. We are human animals. Our society, including the organizations we serve, fall to the same short-termism. Reacting to customers, changing the marketing flavor each month and paying the quarterly dividend. With so much hope and optimism at the new year, we could leverage our quarterly conditioning and through a liberating structure, we could repeat new year’s resolutions every quarter with an eye on reconciling our current aspirations with an extension into the three months beyond the current year. (Of course we need to think about 10, 20 and 100 years ahead of now, but baby steps are required.)

What might be possible if instead of thinking about our opportunity to change one time per year with a lifeline of about three months, we instead thought about our opportunity to change with an ongoing lifelines that we revisited every three months? And what if we engaged in this optimism as a collective?