Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Soren Kaplan

Do we really need cures for pessimism? Like what and for resolving what?

By Dan Rockwell?

I’m a huge fan of “just go do something,” but this world filled with options and uncertainty is paralyzing.

When fear prevents the next step, pessimism prevails. Pessimists can’t lead.

“The more fearful we are the more pessimistic we grow about the future,” Soren Kaplan, author of, Leapfrogging: Harnessing the Power of Surprise for Business Breakthroughs.

The cure for pessimism:

Refusing to take the next step because you fear failure creates pessimism. On the other hand, anticipating and preparing for contingencies is wisdom, not pessimism.

Churchill put it this way, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

I asked Soren for a cure to fearful pessimism. He said, “It doesn’t matter what you do next as long as you do something and learn.” The worst thing you can do is sit and stew.

Kaplan said, “Do something you believe is right – that aligns with values and makes sense – and you create optimism. The exciting thing about optimism is it fuels action.” But how?

Choosing the next step:

During our conversation we explored strategies for identifying the next “best” step.

Soren suggested three questions:

  1. Where is the opportunity for biggest impact? Prioritize.
  2. What must be done? Urgency is determined by threats and opportunities.
  3. What are the abilities of the team? Where can the horses in the barn take you?

Expert opinions, data, and research are helpful but not necessary. Just go do something.

Soren said, “Mitigate risk by asking, what’s the smallest step you can take that gives the biggest impact.”

The only thing remaining is the courage and resolve to step out and learn.

“To achieve greatness: start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.” Arthur Ashe 

In a world of options and uncertainty, how can leaders identify the next “best” step?

Managing is more than processes and procedures; it’s people.

Successful managers bring out the best in others.: Management and leadership are about coaching around performance.” John Baldoni

By Dan Rockwell?

My conversation with author, speaker, and executive coach, John Baldoni, covered everything from what’s wrong with leadership to the good side of office politics. John has an amazing breadth of experience and expertise.

Manager as coach:

Coaching rises to the top of leadership skills in organizations that value participation rather than command and control.

Coaching is about long-term relationships.” John Baldoni

John suggests manager-coaches begin with three questions:

  1. What does my employee want? Uncover motivation. Do they want development, promotion, opportunity? All employees strive for recognition.
  2. What is stopping my employee from achieving her objectives? Everyone has blind spots and behaviors that hold them back.
  3. What can I do to help my employee become more successful? Sometimes you’ll challenge. Other times, you’ll be a cheerleader.

Coaching Tips for managers:

  1. Coaches don’t do the work for others.
  2. Schedule regular sessions.
  3. Stay performance focused.
  4. Deal with one challenge at a time.
  5. Keep the tone positive and conversational.
  6. Assess the process. How are you doing as a coach? How is the person doing?
  7. Demonstrate belief in employees.
  8. Evaluate.

 “Leaders who coach are those who treat their employees as individuals and regard them as contributors” John Baldoni

What makes managers successful coaches?

 What is challenging about coaching?

This post is a combination of my conversation with John and his new book, The Leader’s Pocket Guide.s

Circumstances don’t determine the atmosphere and tone of organizations, leaders do.

Look around your office or leadership team. Is the tone positive or negative? Now, look at yourself. How are you perceived?

Organizations reflect leadership.

Thursday, I reconnected with Shirzad Chamine, author of, Positive Intelligence. He reminded me that our “Sage” is a joyful, curious, explorer. I started thinking about fearful versus confident leadership.

Fearful vs. Confident:

Fearful leaders withdraw, limit, control, manipulate, and pressure others. Fearful leaders respond to challenges, opportunities, and problems pessimistically.

Confidence fuels optimism; fear fuels pessimism.

Tough circumstances test everyone, especially leaders. Hand-wringers set negative tones. On the other hand, denying tough times never inspires.


Leadership-optimism isn’t pretending everything’s okay. Confident leaders connect, inspire, and unleash. They explore with curiosity.

Inspirational leaders face tough times
with curiosity, exploration, joy, and confidence.


Leadership-attitude won’t solve tough times. It is, however, the way leaders establish tone and atmosphere in collaborative environments during challenging situations. Positive environments are built on positive attitudes, speech, and behaviors.

(Check out Soren Kaplan’s book, Leapfrogging, for more on optimism.)

What’s the difference between foolish and realistic optimism?

How can leaders set positive tones in organizations?

Can you control fear? Can fear of failure be controlled and managed

Fear, change, uncertainty, future, courage, perseverance… These words seem to be intricately connected: You select one of these terms and the rest follow in the same article…

Do you think that the source of most of our fear is a feeling of lack of control?

In her book “Reading Lolita in Tehran”, Azar Nafisi wrote: “During the day, I did not have time to think about all the dead relatives and friends…I was not afraid of following the (Iran) Revolutionary Committees…I argued with the Revolutionary Guards…and I felt brave. I paid the heavy price at night: I had insomnia, I internalized the fear, I roamed the house, read and fell asleep with my glasses on…”

How do you face your fears?

Do you prepare for future failures so you won’t end up caught in the snare of fear. Sort of Preparation prevents reaction?

People are used to say: “Focus on what you control; identify, understand and prepare for what you can’t…”

“One way to combat our fears is to hit them head-on.” Soren Kaplan in Leapfrogging: Harnessing the Power of Surprise for Business Breakthroughs,”.

On exploring your biggest possible failure, Dan Rockwell enumerated the following:

  1. What does your most disastrous scenario look like?
  2. What impact would this worst-case scenario have on individuals, teams, the organization, customers, …
  3. What would be the short-term impact on you personally? Long-term impact?
  4. What would you personally feel or experience?
  5. How could you rebound from this failure?
  6. What would you do next?
  7. In what way could the failure be used as a stepping-stone?

Step back after exploring:

  1. What insights have you gained?
  2. What new alternatives or options opened up?
  3. Did any of your assumptions or feelings about failure change?

Divide a sheet of paper down the middle. Create a bulleted list of items you control and things you cannot control. Explore, evaluate, prioritize, and consider the impact of each item.

Can you focusing on positive vision rather than possible failures? (I have lived 4 years with not a nickel in my pocket and no health insurance coverage, and I survived happily and healthily. Is that a foolish experiment?)

Do you think that exploring possible failures before they occur helps free you from the snare of fearing failure? (Got to experiment with your life and witness how far you can control your fear. I discovered that the hardest roadblock is “How can I safeguard my parents and relatives in cases of emergencies…?”)

Okay, you are handicapped with fear and the unknown…Can you Inspire Courage in Others, even when grappling with fear?

For example:

“People are not afraid of change, they are afraid of uncertainty…” Joe Tye. Create points of certainty…

“In the realm of ideas everything depends on enthusiasm… in the real world all rests on perseverance.” Goethe

“It is physiologically impossible to be frightened when you are laughing: Lighten up and laugh” Joe Tye. (We have to discriminate among kinds of laughter: hysteric, freakish, good nature, under drugs…depending on the level of “lighten up”)

“You will never do anything in this world without courage” Aristotle

“If people are more afraid of the boss than they are of the competition, the competition is certain to win.” Joe Tye

Courage and fear always dwell together. Courage doesn’t eliminate fear, it answers it. Acknowledge the fears of others.

Success is persistently taking the next step. Taking the next step takes courage.

The real power of our courage and perseverance is that they inspire courage and perseverance in others.

Give fear a name and it becomes just a problem; it’s easier to solve problems than it is to conquer fear

Prepare for what you fear. Hurricane Sandy is on it’s way. You’ve been preparing.  You purchased gasoline and tested your generator, for example.

Courage translated fear into preparation…” (Dan Rockwell)

Why must you move forward? Face uncertainty by focusing on purpose…

Note 1: A 1: 1.5 minutes interview by Dan Rockwell with Joe Tye: Changing Your Metaphors.

Note 2: Inspired by two posts of Dan Rockwell




June 2023

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