Is Your Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

Attitude is everything

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Many of us continue to be battered by hard times. Economists claim that the Great Recession is a memory. Well, tell that to the hundreds of individuals forced to pound the pavement trying to find a job–any job–or to the once middle-class families who now represent the “new poor” in today’s society.

My question to them and to those facing similar circumstances: Do you see the glass as being half full or half empty?

I’m not being flippant. On the contrary, I’m telling you it’s time for us to stop whining, count our blessings, and forge ahead. If you’re among the employed or you own a business, your focus should remain on what it is during flush times: Strive to be the best at whatever you do as you relentlessly pursue the next career-building or revenue-producing opportunity. I have always maintained that the true measure of a professional is not his or her performance in good times, but his or her response to seemingly daunting challenges. You see, the difference between an outstanding achiever and a mediocre performer is razor thin. So, what distinguishes one from the other? Attitude.

I, for one, am an unabashed optimist. To use that old but still relevant adage, I always see the glass half full. Don’t mistake me for a Pollyanna wearing rose-colored glasses, though. To realize my measure of success, I take responsibility for my actions, map out a strategy for personal and professional achievement and, above all, retain an unshakable belief in my abilities. And I’m not alone; it has been proven that optimism is embedded in the DNA of successful people from all walks of life. For example, a Metropolitan Life Insurance study on positive outlook and success ratios revealed that sales personnel with the highest levels of optimism sold 37% more insurance policies than those identified as pessimists. And according to an article in Corporate Wellness Magazine, optimism is the No. 1 personality trait in predicting professional success. Moreover, experts have reported that optimistic workers have more drive: Optimists who have been laid off take three to six weeks to begin a new job search; pessimists take as long as six months.

So in these uncertain times, it’s critical to maintain a positive outlook. Most will be unable to land new positions or find much-needed capital to grow their businesses if their vision is clouded by pessimism. Too often I find entrepreneurs, business associates, and employees making excuses, looking to blame others or throw their colleagues under the bus instead of taking responsibility and correcting course when they’ve made mistakes or crashed into obstacles. That’s why I surround myself with positive friends, employees, colleagues, and partners who are honest and unstoppable. That can-do spirit becomes contagious and self-reinforcing. Optimism is the fuel of energy. In fact, challenges large or small help to recharge my batteries.

I also agree with the philosophy espoused by Janice Bryant Howroyd, a dynamic BE 100s CEO. She asserts that there is never a bad time to conduct business–especially for African Americans. Since opening her staffing firm more than 30 years ago, Howroyd, like countless black business owners, has had to contend with lack of capital, insufficient resources, and closed doors. Despite those barriers, she has steadfastly maintained a laser-like focus on the next business opportunity. As a result, she owns the nation’s fourth largest black-owned business, which operates around the globe. Last year it grossed nearly $1 billion in revenues.

African Americans, more so than any other group of professionals and entrepreneurs in this country, should confidently emulate Howroyd’s can-do attitude. Time and again, we have proved our resilience regardless of whether the economy was up, down, or sideways. In fact, I have found that during times of crisis we often display our greatest levels of perseverance and ingenuity. That’s why we should all view the glass as half full. And if you find one that happens to be empty, be assured that you have all the resources you need to fill it to the top.

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  • Half empty or half full. Would it be possible, if, as we ALL agree are totally equal people, for there to exist a White Enterprise website focusing on all white people? I am tired of us as blacks, constantly using our skin color to get something, or gain the upper hand. When all it really takes nowadays is a college degree and a lot of hard work. Would a “United Caucasian College Fund” be viewed as racist? Come on people. Let’s stop setting ourselves apart and driving the fundamental “We are different…..” to our children and start teaching them that with hard work we are no different and need no special programs, groups, or help in any other way shape or form from anyone and can achieve whatever we set our sights on.

    • Omo Abisogun

      Mr. Doe; your comments are duly noted, to which I add / respond as follows. Earl Graves Jnr, has set the scene as one of a ‘dire need’ for ALL people to dig deep and deeper still if we are to achieve ANY potential, let alone one’s true potential (whether individually or collectively). The latter to be considered, particularly, in the midst of adversity. I note that the origins of Black Enterprise (BE) aside from positive energy, was premised upon the dire NEED (at that time) to reference those specific and somewhat under-represented key issues that affected the African/American in particular, and in some way, shape or form, continue to do so. The ‘blood, sweat and tears’ acknowledged and articulated so eloquently by BE over the years engrossing stalwarts such as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jnr. and other icons of this genre; has precipitated monumental achievements such as that of the most recent US Presidential elections. I believe that ‘the Obama success story’ is a distinct reflection of the achievements of the African/American in the midst of adversity, particularly as there was a clear requirement (by President Obama and his campaign team) to dig deeper when faced with a myriad of challenges en-route to the White House. Bringing things back to current day reality, “a college degree and a lot of hard work” are indeed ‘historic’ prerequisites, but need to be applied to a distinctly different socio-economic and commercial landscape. The commands of the ‘21st Century path to (personal/business) success’ are quite different and race (I believe) continues to be relevant no matter the matrix of the circumstance(s) in debate / under consideration. Indeed, even corporate / global protectionism, has raised it’s head above the parapet! Notwithstanding, non-whites in the USA that have rightly (or wrongly for that matter) taken advantage of the ‘special programs, groups, or help in any other way shape or form’ have done so (I believe) in the view that they sought or seek to level an unlevel playing field. The USA has led (much to the admiration of many around the world) on innovative procurement and/or employment / selection practices, where ‘proposed like-for-like’ criteria did not or could not achieve the ‘best’ result or decision. I am also aware that we can ALL debate such issues in perpetuity………!! However, and although correctly highlighted by you (presumably as a US citizen), I have often mandated that African/American’s et al should spend time in the UK and/or, potentially, other areas of the European Union, when seeking to develop one’s career or build their business. When seeking to determine the appropriateness of any ‘special program etc.’ it is only by exposing oneself (as an African/American) to the ‘other worldy alternative(s)’ that one can truly decipher it’s raison d’etre and dare I say it, relevance. I agree that we should ALL stop whinging (as individuals co-existing in the Western world) and just get on with it. As fortunate as we are – health, wealth and dream(s) permitting – we can at least participate and seek to realize both our goals and true potential. We must ALL (ultimately) lead by example for one another, so let us make haste while the sun shines, remembering that ‘Rome was not built in a day’,………….but built, it was!!

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  • the editor is completely right even in this recession it is a great opportunity for those less fortunate to become very successful. a college degree may not always be the solution for many of whom that are currently dealing with debt. these days it calls for thinking opposite the norm. look at it this way the middle class has became the lower class or broke class now they see what it’s like for the poor that desired to have the same opportunity as they were given. this is truly a changing time for blacks to reclaim our identity in our communities. review the 30’s, 40,s 50’s and 60’s when we had our own black thriving businesses and truly had no choice but to rely on our own people to keep the doors open and to employ us. we need to give our selves the benefit of the doubt that we have the means to adapt and conquer all oppressed times from the family let rebuild a new black America.

  • Just wanted to say that my glass is neither half full or half empty… it is over flowing!

  • Sarah

    Half Full, it all dnpeeds on what you see. Yeah on my bad days the glass is half empty. When I think of my daughter the glass is half full. It is what I consider important and what I don’t.