A little while ago I penned an article entitled Optimism S.O.S, using in the title the metaphor “Save Our Souls”, the international distress signal; instead applying my own interpretation in relation to the subject of optimism in our society.

My version of the term is very different and has the following meaning, Survival, Optimism, Success.

When constructing this proposition I was not to know that in a few short weeks I would be exposed to a situation where those principles would be demonstrated in real life.

Let me explain:

Two weeks ago I was invited to speak as a guest lecturer at a local university, the topic being my experiences as an international corporate trouble-shooter and in recent years as a business interventionist. The audience comprised of around twenty undergraduates whom were in engaged in a human resources degree.

The lecture seemed to have been well received but I walked away thinking that perhaps my delivery could have been better and maybe the students present did not really take on board the messages I was trying to purvey. Those messages included respect, relationships, resilience and trust, topics which I truly feel have been damaged in the past few years, in my opinion there exists a case for repair and renewal.

Two days later I went to the local shopping centre to visit the store of my mobile phone provider, browsing the products on offer I was approached by a young man, whom I did not recognise. He informed me he had attended the lecture and wanted to shake my hand as he enjoyed it so much and missed the opportunity on the day to speak with me.

The young man called “Mike” told me his story; he was working at the store over twenty hours per week to pay for his tuition fees: It was a struggle but he was determined to finish the course and graduate. Having applied for ten training scholarships and unfortunately being unsuccessful in the positions on offer, he cited the need be to display resilience in his quest for a suitable placement. “Mike” told me the lecture had renewed his sense of optimism for his future career prospects. Success he told me may be currently difficult to achieve but one cannot give up.

As I left the store, humbled, I had a tear in my eye and my bottom lip was quivering. He was not to know the person with whom he had been speaking had himself been battling his own issues including family, health and challenges in his career. That short interlude was a defining moment and caused me to renew my commitment to working through my issues including the work of which I am passionately engaged in. (maybe an example of “Physician heal thyself”).

The simple fact is optimism is contagious and can emerge from many different sources; we should never underestimate its ability to change mindsets of all ages.

Ken Wood
Interventionist, Optimist, Educator