“Being optimistic doesn’t mean you don’t get upset when bad things happen—it’s normal to get upset! But the optimist recognizes that most bad things are temporary and looks for opportunities to change circumstances for the better through new efforts or strategies.”  

The words above come from characterlab.org, a “nonprofit on a mission to develop, disseminate, and support research-based approaches to character that enable kids to learn and flourish.”

On the other hand, the words below come from my principal, Dr. Paul Semendinger.  Slightly altered for this blog post, Dr. Semendinger’s words – addressed to the parental community – come from our school’s monthly highlights and happenings newsletter.

WARNING: Only read if you care about powerful and research-proven ideas on how to build champion students who go on to become champion adults.  

This month, I will continue our short look at elements of success based upon passages of interest from the book How Champions Think by Dr. Bob Rotella.

In Chapter 2 of his text, Dr. Rotella states:

“Exceptional people, I have found, either start off being optimistic or learn to be optimistic because they realize that they can’t get what they want in life without being optimistic.”
“Optimism is an attitude that people can choose to have.”
“While the correlation between optimism and success is imperfect, there is almost a perfect correlation between negative thinking and failure.”
“Misfortune happens to everyone…everyone has occasional doubts, but successful people know that, in the long run, success will come.”

These are powerful words.  I think they also speak, very clearly, to what we try to provide children here at school.  It is our goal to teach students to believe in themselves and to know that with diligence and patience they can succeed.  We also work to help students build a positive self-image though their excellent academic work and through the kindness and respect that are modeled here on a daily basis.  One cannot build a positive self-image in a negative environment.

Being optimistic does not mean that believing that everything is perfect or that everything will be great.  Rather, being optimistic means having the confidence to know that through hard, diligent, and meaningful work, we can succeed.  

When beginning any task it is important to start with the right mindset; that is believing in yourself.  That is optimism.  

The careful reader of the passages above might note that one sentence discusses a sure avenue toward failure, but then remember that here at {name of our school}, we talk a lot about failure.  In the past, we have said that failure can be good and that people learn through their mistakes.  Are these thoughts discongruous?  

In short, I would say no.  There is a mindset of an attitude called “Positive Failure.”  This is the type of failure we should embrace.  Positive failure is failure that comes from our best efforts with our best attitude.  When we give our best and come up short, that type of failure is most often temporary.  What we need to avoid, and what we need to teach our children to avoid, is negative failure – the belief that no matter how hard you try at something that you know you will not succeed.

It all comes back to having the best attitude and an optimistic approach as we begin every endeavor.  In every task there are setbacks.  In every profession, we have difficult and challenging days.  When we prepare with our best efforts, and when we bring optimism to our efforts, we know that we can, and will, overcome the challenges that present themselves.

Winston Churchill once stated, “I am an optimist.  It does not seem too much use to be anything else.”  He is absolutely correct.  Through positive thoughts, we can make the darkest day seem a little brighter.  When we look for the good, we can find it.  We can also use this optimism to bring brightness to others.

One of the things we excel at is building optimistic children.  The students here know that they are valued.  They see positive role models who always tend to look for the good.  We are building a great foundation that will help children succeed in school and in life.