Larry Banman " Every day should be an exercise in optimism
April 7, 2009
There are going to be some changes made around here.
If you are a parent, no doubt you have found yourself at a point where you knew that things needed to change or bodies were going to start flying. That need for systemic change generally comes after a period of time when you knew that things were slipping out of control and you likely knew that you were passing several warning signs.
Along that journey, you may have wanted to change things but the thought of change was too painful or the work it would require was too onerous.
I have heard it said that change never truly happens until the cost of keeping things the same is greater than the cost, or pain, of change.
When my kids heard me say some real changes needed to be made, they knew we would start looking at certain things from a fundamentally different viewpoint. Often that was a relief, because it meant we would stop trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. It meant that something we were doing wasn’t working and it wasn’t because we weren’t tying to make it work. There was a flaw either in the method
we were using or in the way we were evaluating the success of that method. It can be incredibly frustrating to keep doing something the same way and hoping for different results.
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The other day, I was listening to a local town official talk about the competition for the stimulus money promised by the governing body in Washington, D.C. He was noting that the perceived need (demand) far outweighs the stimulus funding (supply). In addition, he noted that the application process just to qualify for those funds was lengthy, time-consuming and expensive.
The logical outcome of that process, we determined, is that the entities with the most resources are in the best position to attain the new resources. In other words, the rich get richer. (I thought that was supposed to be a trait of the Republican Party, but I digress.)
The conversation prompted me to start thinking about how communities like those in Grand County are going to survive. If you are of the persuasion that the current economic malaise is just a hiccup on the path to American euphoria, then change isn’t something you are prepared to consider. If you believe that the very basis upon which the last several decades have been built is threatened, then you know that change is required for survival. I would include myself among
those who believe that we may have already gone down the current road too long. I believe we have to start looking at things differently.
That isn’t to say that I am not optimistic. The word optimism comes from the Latin word, ops, for “power or ability.” In early modern science, optimum was defined as the outer limit at which an innate or acquired power or capacity can operate. An optimist, by extension, is somebody who believes every day is an opportunity at which to operate at one’s optimum, or top capacity.
People are different. Therefore, by definition, each of us has a different optimum. It doesn’t mean my optimum is better or worse than your optimum, it simply means our optimums are different. I believe our society spends far too much time seeking a very similar optimum.
Look at what we wear, how we act, how we talk, what goals we try to achieve. Too many times, it appears, we are basically no different than a bunch of lab rats chasing the same piece of cheese in the same maze.
Since we are all blessed with different gifts and talents, think how we would benefit if each of us had the freedom to seek his or her optimum. Idealistically, the whole would benefit from the expression of each of the parts. In most situations, the whole would become greater than the sum of its parts.
I believe the individuals, families and communities that succeed are those that learn from experience. Each situation presents its own challenges as well as its own opportunities. Those that take advantage of the opportunities are those that have a reason to be optimistic.
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