Sunday, December 11, 2011

Confounding the Wise: The Gospel of Optimism

This installment of "confounding the wise" comes from Mark Bruni in the New York Times' Sunday Review:


He reminds us that strength comes in many forms and some people have what can be described only as a gift for winning, which isn’t synonymous with any spreadsheet inventory of what it supposedly takes to win.
This gift usually involves hope, confidence and a special composure, all of which keep a person in the game long enough, with enough energy and stability, so that a fickle entity known as luck might break his or her way. For Tebow that state of mind comes from his particular relationship with his chosen God and is a matter of religion. For someone else it might be understood and experienced as the power of positive thinking, and is a matter of psychology. Either way it boils down to stubborn optimism and bequeaths a spark. A swagger. An edge.

It’s easy to be pessimistic about optimism. When peddled generically by unctuous politicians, it can seem the ultimate opiate, a cop-out and fallback when there’s nothing more substantive to sustain you. But optimism can have an impact. It’s what radiates from Tebow and fires up the Broncos. And therein lies a lesson about leadership with a resonance beyond football.

After Tebow took over, the Broncos didn’t add a whole, half or even quarter roster of better players. But he told his teammates, “Believe in me.” And he must have done so with a persuasive charisma. They clearly have a renewed belief in themselves — and are performing better than before.

The Broncos are the talk of the league. More and more people are watching. And you could indeed say they’re tuning in to find out how far God can take a team. Because that’s just another way of saying how far grit can.

Full story here.