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“What’s so bright about the bright side?”

Sometimes, uncertainty makes it hard maintain your optimism at work. What’s so bright about the bright side when all around you is constant change and growing complexity? It’s hard not to think in terms of good or bad when your boss is promoted, your colleague departs, or you’re given a difficult deadline.

But why must these events be either good or bad, or indeed have any value at all? What if we just saw them as an unfolding, a kind of plot development in your organizational environment’s story? After all, what seems like a misfortune could lead to something better, as in this fable.

Maybe Yes, Maybe No: A fable about optimism at work.

There was a village and, in this village, to own a horse was considered to have much wealth. One day this old man’s horse broke out of the corral and ran into the forest. The villagers gathered around and commiserated with the old man “what a terrible misfortune has fallen upon your home.” The old man responded with, “Well, maybe yes, maybe no.”

A few days later his horse returned with six wild stallions. Well you can imagine if one horse was considered wealthy, seven was beyond imagination. The villagers gathered again to praise the good fortune. The old man again responded with, “Maybe yes, maybe no.”

A week later his eldest son was trying to break one of the stallions, fell off and broke his leg. This was most unfortunate in that the old man needed his son to help with the farm work. Once again the villagers gathered to bemoan his misfortune. Once again, the old man again responded with, “Maybe yes, maybe no.”

Two weeks later the army came through looking for young men to recruit to war and could not take his son. Was this good fortune?

As the man would have said, “maybe yes, maybe no.” Who’s to know if his son would have saved lived or lost his own?

The moral of the story

Work and workplaces are disrupted constantly. Budgets are cut, strategy changes or your software upgrade fails. They could be disruptions or welcome changes: the point it not to judge them; but remain optimistic about the eventual outcome.

As my colleague Rhona Berengut says, “It all works out in the end. If it hasn’t it isn’t the end yet.”

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