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Winning Words

Raising the bar of optimism is courageous and contagious


How are you doing?” It was a common and simple enough question to ask a friend of mine whom I had not spoken to in a while. Her response, “Better than yesterday, awesome today, and not yet quite as incredible as tomorrow.” I loved it and her enthusiasm was contagious as her answer inspired me for the rest of my day, and it definitely contributed to this column.

Years ago, I had written about a friend of mine, his name is Jerry, but his nickname has always been Nazz, an abbreviated version of his last name. Well Nazz, when asked how he was doing would always answer in the same way, “Great, couldn’t be better.” I watched him give this same response over and over again. And without fail, it always brought a smile to my face and to whoever it was that asked him how he was doing.

Optimism is one thing, but a commitment to optimism takes everything to a whole new level. It isn’t just a mindset, it turns our mindset into action. Both friends I mention above have always had this sense of positive thinking ever since I have met them. Their positive attitude and optimistic outlook towards life has played a huge role in my own personal development and I hope to share a little of that with you here today.

When I think about some of the emails I receive, and relate their stories to the idea of a positive outlook in life, I think about the people fighting addictions, couples going through a divorce, relationships that are hanging on by a thread, people battling cancer or other health-related problems, members of our community struggling to find work, and others who are facing challenges of any kind. And I think about what I have shared in my replies to their emails as I encourage people to take personal ownership of how they choose to prepare and respond to any situation positively:

• Strength: I am strong enough to fight this and I am getting stronger every day

• Courage: I am braver today than I was yesterday, and I can face whatever comes my way

• Confidence: I believe in myself, my abilities, my knowledge, and who I am as a person

• Faith: I am loved by God, my God is here with me, He is here for me, He never forsakes me

• Hope: I live with hope, a hope for each day to be better than the day before

• Love: I have love to offer, and I have many people who love me for who I am

The more people who I have been blessed to meet and who carry such a conviction of optimism, enthusiasm, and positive outlook are the people who live with strength, courage, confidence, faith, hope, and love. And here’s the thing, many of the people who live with these qualities and characteristics have made the conscious choice to do so. That’s right, they have made the choice to live with these qualities even in the face of much adversity and overwhelming hardships and heartache. They have been challenged with the death of a loved one, divorce, a business partner who cheated them, bankruptcy, and addictions of many kinds. Yet they choose strength, courage, confidence, faith, hope, and love. It is life-changing for them and it is life-changing for everyone that has the pleasure and privilege of knowing them.

And here’s the other part of this. Many people who I know who are thriving and not facing challenges at this time also seem to live with these very same traits. They aren’t fighting adversity, they use these same qualities to raise the bar of optimism and success.

So let me ask you, “How are you doing?” I would love to hear how you are doing, what might be pulling you down and what may be driving your optimism at gotonorton@gmail.com. And when we can try and be better than yesterday, awesome today, and not quite as incredible as tomorrow, it really will be a better than good week.

Michael Norton is a resident of Castle Rock, the former president of the Zig Ziglar Corporation, a strategic consultant and a business and personal coach.


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