Emotions Affect Outcomes 4: Optimism and the Glasses in the Baltic

This is an excerpt from The People Profit Connection, Third Edition:

I have a personal story about how emotional energy, specifically optimism, created a desired outcome. The main thing we teach is how to manage your emotions for the best outcomes. I am known to be overly optimistic. I score high in optimism and low in reality testing. My wife calls me “optimistic to the point of ridiculous”. I was in Sweden teaching a course for a week. Keep in mind we were out in the middle of nowhere right on the Baltic Sea. On Monday evening, after a nice sauna, I jumped into the Baltic, which was around forty-five degrees, and lost my glasses. I didn’t have a backup pair of glasses or a pair of contacts. This was a disaster. I couldn’t see the screen to teach and had a hard time conducting the training sessions.

I called my wife and told her that I was going to find a glasses place, and I could look into a machine, and then they would give me my new glasses. She said she didn’t think they could do that, but I was undaunted. Just in case, she contacted my optometrist and had my glasses prescription faxed to the conference center. In the meantime, I told my wife that I would try to find someone with a diving mask or goggles so that I could dive down into the forty-five degree water and find my glasses. But without my glasses, I’m not sure I could see well enough to find them. But I was undaunted. My wife thought this was ridiculous on two levels. One, we were in Sweden. Who is going to have diving equipment? Two, the Baltic has tides. There is no way those glasses are going to be there after several days. But I was undaunted.

I talked to the bartender at the conference center, who told me that she just returned from a diving trip in Egypt and had a pair of diving goggles. She said that there was a small glasses boutique in the village where I might be able to get some contacts. And if I had contacts, I could use the goggles, dive down into the forty-five degree water and find my glasses. Keep in mind that time is passing. It is Wednesday now. I managed in the classroom, but could not drive into the village on Wednesday because of something we had to do as a class that evening. I went to the glasses boutique with my prescription on Thursday afternoon. Of course, they can’t give you glasses by looking into a machine. This place didn’t even have a machine to look into. But they did have contacts for me. So Thursday evening, I went back to the conference center with my contacts in and the diving goggles in hand. But it was too dark to look that night. I would have to wait until Friday.

Friday morning came, and I put on my bathing suit, my contacts, and my goggles. All of the participants were seated on the deck overlooking the sea, waiting for the bus. They all told me it was a waste of time and that after four days, the glasses would be impossible to find. I dove into the forty-five degree water. It took my breath, but I swam down about twelve feet and there they were. My glasses half buried in the sand. I picked them up and triumphantly broke the surface of the water, holding them high over my head. They participants thought I had staged the whole thing to teach them a lesson about optimism and creating outcomes.

Did managing my emotions and staying optimistic affect the outcome of this situation? I’m sure that it did. By staying focused on the desired outcome despite what logic and common sense told me, the outcome was a positive one. I believe that I actually created that reality and affected that outcome by what I chose to think and feel. Neuroscientists and social scientists are actually proving this in the lab through experimentation.  There is a massive positive psychology movement afoot.  Imagine the power of this in your day-to-day encounters with life’s challenging situations.

If you want to know more, check out my book, The People Profit Connection:



One Response to Emotions Affect Outcomes 4: Optimism and the Glasses in the Baltic

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