‘Futurology’ is the study of postulating the future: working out the pattern behind the blur. If only the present is real, then the future is fiction – we can make it up! Anticipating the future is uniquely human, but what you imagine, depends on your explanatory style. As a profession, we are working in the same environment – a crowded marketplace, more on-line retailing – but your interpretation of these events depends on what perspective you take.
Some choose to see the worst. The best pessimists see the worst in every person and every situation. They continue the gloom regardless of facts that suggest the contrary. They grumble about corporate advertising, even though it increases consumer awareness of eye care. Such pessimism can masquerade as wit, but often it’s defense against their fear of potential failure. If this is starting to sound like you, the good news is that pessimism is only a habit of thinking negatively, a habit you can change.
A less negative explanatory style is being hopeful. A hopeful person aspires to success. They look forward to a positive result. Being full of hope is an optimistic virtue. And what of the person who is optimistic?
An optimistic person expects the best. They think of life as being good and full of possibility. Optimists explain setbacks by external, temporary causes and have the ability to create multiple, preferable futures. This gives them confidence about the future. Like the negative styles, you can learn to be optimistic.
The practice of optometry imbibes itself to optimism. There is a wide scope of practice, sophisticated products and technology, and consumers rather than patients.
The practice of optometry imbibes itself to optimism. There is a wide scope of practice, sophisticated products and technology, and consumers rather than patients. Even the name ‘optometrist’ sounds like it belongs to an optimist. Most start here, then get into running a business and realise being optimistic is not enough. A realist has the same positive attitude, combined with a need to face the brutal facts. The facts give the clarity to know which future to pursue and what steps to take next.
Jim Collins, management guru and author of “Good to Great” draws a parallel to the ancient Greek poem describing all humans: The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing. According to Collins, all good-to-great leaders are hedgehogs. They know how to simplify the complex into a single, galvanised idea. They also understand it takes time to change direction. Collins believes hedgehogs work to answer these three big questions: What are we most passionate about? What can we be best in the world at? How will it turn a profit?
Irrespective of your responsibility, at work and at home, you can start thinking more like a hedgehog. You don’t have to be the best in the world, just best in the world at your passion.
The pessimist sees the glass as half empty, the optimist sees the glass as half full, but the realist says it doesn’t matter, because either way the glass still needs washing!