Although I never served in the armed forces, my father was a marine and I learned to appreciate the service those in the military provide.  I’ve also been very interested in the discipline and the preparation that goes into every drill and how each drill prepares you for proper execution when the drill becomes a reality.  I’ve studied Colin Powell’s points on leadership and do admire him for his service and for sharing his insights.  (Download the power point summary:  C Powell On Leaderhip )

I wanted to zero in on Lesson 12 (although all are great and you should review them):   

"Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier."

“The ripple effect of a leader's enthusiasm and optimism is awesome.  So is the impact of cynicism and pessimism.  Leaders who whine and blame engender those same behaviors among their colleagues.  I am not talking about stoically accepting organizational stupidity and performance incompetence with a "what, me worry?" smile.  I am talking about a gung-ho attitude that says "we can change things here, we can achieve awesome goals, we can be the best." Spare me the grim litany of the "realist," give me the unrealistic aspirations of the optimist any day.” C Powell

For you to lead with optimism, you have to willing to set yourself up for disappointment.  Striving for any goal means there is a chance that you may not make the goal.  However, rather than spending time and energy rationalizing why you really don’t need to attain the goal or that if you don’t achieve it, no big deal, there is a plan ‘B’...  this mentality only takes away from the passion and enthusiasm. 

Don’t be afraid to expose yourself (DO NOT TAKE THIS OUT OF CONTEXT!!)  Rather, make yourself vulnerable to the potential disappointment of losing or missing the goal.  Go for it!  Do it!  Don’t be afraid to give it everything you got and don’t be afraid to find out that YOU might not have enough or that you might get second place!  That’s the point of being a leader—it’s not all about you---it’s about those you serve and those that you serve can do incredible things—they just need a leader that’s not afraid to lead!

A final thought from a quote from Charles DuBois:  “The important thing is this;  To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.”