The Optimism Zone

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(Image Courtesy of Real Balance Wellness)

Soccer, youth travel soccer to be specific, now fills most of our days. Practices fill the week. Games fill the weekend.

Each week we are surrounded by increased skills, increased playing ability, and an increased level of teamwork.

Each week something else has also increased: the negativity of the spectators.

Negativity creeps in, when something doesn’t go the right way. At first negativity is hard to notice, and it may begin as disappointment.

The collective “OH NO, TOO BAD” when a goal is missed, turns into “UGH.”

The “GOOD TRY” becomes “WHY DIDN’T YOU MAKE THAT PLAY.”

About a week ago, the negativity became so loud during the game that it made my emotional glass cloudy. For hours after that game, I had the kind of emotional hangover that lasted for more than a few hours.

At the next day’s game, we set up early and made a declaration:

“This area right here (pointing to the imaginary large circle surrounding our folding chairs) is a declared Optimism Zone. If you feel the need to be negative, you need to go someplace else.”

For the first few minutes of the game we had to remind others a few times.

“As a reminder, you are in the Optimism Zone, all statements and comments should reflect that, if not, you should find another area to sit.”

The game, the comments, and our experience improved dramatically. We were returning to positive comments, and encouraging remarks.

The original negativity comes partly from how much these parents, friends, and family care about the players and how much they want them to succeed, and to win.

What began as coaching, became tearing down. What began as cheering, became criticism. Once negativity becomes the dominant way to express emotions, it slowly becomes the only channel.

Our attitudes and emotional state are contagious.

Perhaps we could all use an Optimism Zone to recalibrate our interactions.

About Carl Weber

Carl Weber, is the owner and founder of Carl Weber Consulting, a consulting group that helps businesses, non-profits, and individuals understand themselves, hire and manage well, and become great leaders. Carl worked in local government for more than ten years, as the Town Administrator of a few towns in NH. Once upon a time he was a search and rescue swimmer for the US Navy. Carl holds Bachelors’ Degrees in Political Science & Community Development and a Master’s Degree in Public Policy. Carl is a Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst (CPBA) and Certified Professional Motivators Analyst (CPMA). Carl regularly teaches on human factors and the relationship of behavior and leadership styles, as well as motivation, coaching, leadership challenges, and failing as a leader. His passion is to help leaders in their lifelong journey to finish well, to combat and work with their inner voice, and to live a meaningful story worth reading. Carl lives in Southern New Hampshire with his wife Amanda and together they are raising a small tribe of four young (somewhat crazy) women with the goal of unleashing them on the world to change it for the better.
This entry was posted in Making a Difference, Modifying, Our Behaviors, Random Thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Optimism Zone

  1. Sharon says:

    Good reminder. I need that caution tape around my house to remind me of the same thing. Criticism comes much easier than compliments. Familiarity somehow breeds this type of thinking and speech. Choosing to speak words of encouragement instead of negativity requires diligent attention. In establishing a pattern of goodwill, I must make continuous decisions to think before speaking. I wish my mouth came with an automatic ‘pause and think’ before speaking button.

    • Carl Weber says:

      Thanks Sharon. If you ever come up with the ‘pause and think’ button let me know, I sure could use one too.

      Carl

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