When you are presented with a serious challenge, how do you respond? When you have been dealt a difficult blow by life, what do you tell yourself? These are important questions that all of us are going to want to answer as we develop our personal and organizational philosophies.
Thorny issues have been around since the beginnings of human history, and the power to overcome them has been celebrated in song and story almost from the beginning. (Human beings are inveterate story-tellers. In fact, we learn best, and remember best, when stories provide the foundation.)
Take the nearly 2700-year old story of Homer’s “Odyssey” as we talk today about the power of optimism. Odysseus’ son is worried that his father will never come home from the wars. But Pallas Athene, the heroine of the story, gently reassures him by saying, “Your father will not be exiled much longer… trust Odysseus to get free. He always finds a way.”
This is an excellent description of option thinkers: No matter how tough the problem, no matter how great the odds, the option thinker always believes there is a solution. Option thinkers keep trying, experimenting, and looking. And eventually, one of their efforts bears fruit. They just refuse to give up when things get tough.
When Odysseus finally does make it home, in time to drive away his wife’s suitors and reunite his family, it is one of the great homecoming scenes in all literature.
So, what do you tell yourself when you are up against a wall? What do you say when you have been knocked down by life? Instead of looking for someone or something to blame, instead of falling silent in defeat and depression, why not remember Odysseus and tell yourself, “There is an answer, a solution. No matter what, I will find a way!”