Here’s how a world-class optimist thinks: “We simply don’t have enough problems in the world for all of the solutions we can create,” said Jurriaan Kamp, the speaker at the Good Leadership Breakfast last Friday. Jurriaan was in town at my invitation to share his thoughts about why optimism is so important to goodness and good leadership. Here’s some of what else he had to say:
“We know today that what we eat has a lot to do with our health. Most everyone knows that it’s not good to live on McDonald’s [junk food] alone,” he framed the point. “And now, we are discovering the same thing about what we put into our ears and eyes, and how that affects our health.” Jurriaan shared how the 24/7 news cycle, invented by CNN, dramatically increased the assault of traumatic news on people with the Gulf War. Before CNN, when bombs went off in a war the event only happened once on the morning or evening news and people could move past the trauma. After CNN, the bombs keep going off every hour for days, until something else as dramatic comes along to take its place.
How does negative news affect leaders?
The consumption of negative news has substantial affects on our blood pressure, heart rate, and nervous systems. Jurriaan cited modern studies show that it takes an equal amount of good news or mind-clearing meditation to normalize after consuming negative news. That means if you absorb 15 minutes of news like the school shooting in Florida last week, you need another 15 minutes of positivity to recover. “Good leadership is about finding ways to not only care for others, but to care for oneself first,” he observed. “And these days, the best way may be to simply ignore the news altogether. You won’t find any new solutions to your business problems by consuming recycled, negative news in the mainstream media. That’s likely doing you more harm than good.”
Optimism as a verb
Jurriaan was quick to point out that optimism was not artificial happiness, naiveté or a blind Pollyanna point of view. “Optimism is a verb – meaning that you are actively looking for a positive solution in every problem. And that’s what good leadership is all about,” he exclaimed.
It’s the optimism is a verb concept that triggered his shift from conventional, problem-seeking journalism to becoming a global thought-leader on what’s now called “Solutions Journalism.” His original publication, Ode Magazine for Intelligent Optimists, evolved into an online news source today called The Optimist Daily. I highly encourage you to register here.
For me, having a Jurriaan Kamp as our speaker represented a whole new level of confidence and impact for the Goodness movement. When I reached out with an invitation, I gave the request a less than 10% chance of success – he’s an international personality…why would he come to Minneapolis in February?
But then again, why not? “I was drawn to how you’ve articulated a very important subject in ‘goodness,’ and I’m really impressed with the caliber of people you’ve gathered to spread goodness,” he shared with me before parting on Saturday. Which has me thinking…by thinking of optimism as a verb…who else might say “yes!” to my invitation?
Good leaders understand we need to feed our mind and soul with positivity to overcome the traumatic affects of dark noise. And we are actively seeking out positive solutions in every problem.
Watch a two-minute summary of the February 16, 2018, Good Leadership Breakfast featuring Jurriaan Kamp.
Please share with me: How are you feeding your optimism?