Exploring the origins, ethics and future of changemaking

Posts Tagged ‘optimism’

Limits of the mind and how to work with others

In Collective Impact, Personal Reflections on June 23, 2012 at 2:54 pm

“One day you’ll find out that you but play with words, and though you think you simplify the world, you but shroud truth in small complexities” – Joan Grant

I have been having a dilemma lately with one of the projects I am pursuing. The project has been a major collaboration between a number of parties over the last couple of years. We have been progressing quite well, and despite the divergent views and interests of those involved, we have been able to put our differences aside to focus on what collectively unites us.

Then entered a new partner, who rather than focuses on what is working well within the collaboration, he seems to focus on what is not working. His intellect is extraordinary and his ability to question almost anything is very strong. On the upside, his divergent views could help us to move into a better understanding of where we need to go. Questioning is incredibly valuable and it is important for us to continually seek out greater insight to our motivations and what we want to achieve. Questioning, doubt and negativity though totally rubs me up the wrong way.

I have worked with this individual before, and it is the same story every time. From my experience, seeking to understand truth by dissecting knowledge and information does not get you closer to truth. Seeking to make oneself right by making others wrong also does not lead one closer to a higher viewpoint. Not only does it constrain thinking, it is not effective in building relationships with others. And dominating conversation by shutting others down also gets under my skin.

While others have perhaps not been triggered to the same level as I have, Read the rest of this entry »

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It is that really going to work? The ups and downs of cynicism

In Personal Reflections on June 13, 2012 at 4:57 pm

Over the weekend I was sent a business plan for a new initiative being set up in remote Australia to address significant and complex issues including health, school retention and employment for Aboriginal Australians. The business plan was well researched, incredibly detailed and I’m sure very compelling to most readers and investors. The catch was that I was immediately struck with this overwhelming cynicism around whether it would work.

This automatic reaction surprised me. Who have I become? I recall a number of years ago I was working on a project where a collaborator accused me of being blindly optimistic (as if optimism is a bad thing). He couldn’t believe that I had such an unwavering belief that what we were working on would work. Meanwhile, his default position was what I described as ‘willful pessimism’. It was willful as we were responding to the same inputs, but with very different reactions. For me the situation was not pessimistic, it was his willful response that was.

Pessimism and cynicism are different of course. Read the rest of this entry »