As you read this blog, please resist the temptation to read into it a political ideology. I simply want to look at an illustration from recent history to understand a fascinating truth. In order to offset the risk I will feature the truth upfront. OPTIMISM IS A FORCE!
By way of preparation for this election season I wanted to learn from history. A friend suggested the phenomenal book “The Presidents Club” by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy. This extensive study on the relationships between presidents over the past 70 years offers unique insight into the subjects of politics, leadership, pride, and human behavior. One story captured my attention and I offer it to you for consideration.
The first speech I ever listened to was delivered by President Gerald Ford to the graduating cadets of West Point in 1975. The first speech I ever delivered to a large audience was in 1976 when I played Jimmy Carter in a mock election. Too young to truly appreciate what I was hearing or saying, it was 1980 when I first paid attention to a presidential campaign. You can imagine my surprise when I discovered that by the time the 1980 Republican National Convention arrived the presumptive nominee had not selected a running mate. My false memory of history was simple, Ronald Reagan won the primary season and need to sure up his candidacy by asking the runner up, George H.W. Bush , to be his running mate.
Gibbs and Duffy reviewed the tense relationship between Reagan and many party loyalists in his own party. Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan had a very unpleasant and uncomfortable relationship. However, Gerald Ford was Ronald Reagan’s first choice the VP running mate. Members of each other’s staff dialogued for days as the time was ticking to make an announcement. Gerald Ford could not see how a former president could function as a vice-president. The primary sticking point between the two was over their core beliefs regarding an American response toward communism.
Nixon, Ford and Kissinger were advocates of the foreign policy of detent. Since the Kennedy administration the idea was that we needed to find a way to contain communism until the two political world views could co-exist. Ronald Reagan found his footing in political life by pounding on the risks of communist expansion. His belief was that detent is not a viable option, his optimistic mindset articulated that in the battle between these two ideas only one should win.
History would reveal two outcomes. 1. Gerald Ford would not accept the idea of returning to the role of vice-president. 2. Whether you agree with it or not, you must acknowledge that Ronald Reagan’s idealistic optimism made an impact on the course of history.
All entrepreneurs are in the midst of a 4 + year sour economy. Tectonic shifts in the marketplace are causing old ways of doing business to no longer be effective. There is an incredible temptation to settle for mediocre outcomes. I offer to you the possibility that good, old fashioned optimism is a force that influences performance and results. There is a battle of world views occurring right now in your marketplace. One worldview envisions a future without your business or enterprise. The other worldview envisions your ideas, your products, your services, your contributions as the predominant force in the marketplace. What worldview do you believe in? Remember, OPTIMISM IS A FORCE!