Company executives have universally expended an endless stream of monetary, intellectual, and human resources in response to this ongoing dilemma: How do you inspire an entire workforce to productivity?
The issue is staggering when the personality, cultural background, and even work ethic of a company is so diverse. In man’s quest for unity, each corporate family seems to be a microcosm of that endeavor.
In spite of this diversity, a staple attribute of successful employees, (that in turn comprise a successful company), is one that transcends cultural, socioeconomic, and educational circumstances. Even better news for executives, this attribute is also learnable; it’s a choice!
That attribute is optimism.
Now before you assume this is another article of business-speak clichés and wishful thinking, consider this: The world is undergoing some drastic events that have interrupted the global economy. Though admittedly the transportation industry was largely insulated, the social changes and Utah earthquake are dramatic events in the history of England Logistics.
Concerning such intense events, President of England Logistics Jason made the following statement:
“What a special time! What a precious time for us to be living through. A lot of people will hear that and say, ‘What in the world is he talking about, we’re going through total chaos!’ But I go back to, again, what is core to our culture, and what makes each of us as individuals tick, …we get up and want to be better.”
Jason’s statement is a reflection of England Logistics’ culture at large. Despite trying circumstances, an attitude of optimism is being demonstrated. Though naïve to some, this attitude of hope, perspective, and optimism, has allowed for some very unique behavior relative to the very unique conditions of the corporate environment globally.
“What a special time! What a precious time for us to be living through.”
These behaviors are not isolated to a company in Salt Lake City, Utah: they are the dividends of optimism. Here is what we are seeing, and you can expect to see, when optimism is made a guiding virtue in your corporate world:
1. The diamond effect.
As you’re likely familiar, when carbon is exposed to a tremendous amount of pressure and heat, the product is a glimmering diamond. Similarly, when a corporate culture is composed of resilient optimists, pressure and difficulty only reveals the shining qualities of such individuals.
In light of current circumstances, Ryan Lavigne, executive vice president of England Carrier Services, made the following observation during the climax of recent alarming events: “There was such a large contrast to those media channels that were publishing a lot of negativity and fear. Without question, it was awesome to be part of a team that was in solution mode.”
Rather than react out of emotion and angst, Ryan is describing how the team acted to find a solution. Such is a pattern of optimistic cultures.
Of course, disaster rarely dissipates immediately. In the case of the Utah earthquake, monitors were toppled and destroyed, pipes burst, and the sense of security we depend on for normalcy was disrupted by frequent aftershocks for weeks afterward. Where immediate heroism is admirable, it the long-term behavior of a corporate family that determines ongoing success.
Jason recalls, “The inspiration in this for me was seeing the display in the hearts of the people and being caretakers of one another.”
Where immediate heroism is admirable, it the long-term behavior of a corporate family that determines ongoing success.
Shaun, executive vice president of logistics services, elucidates on this caretaking in an anecdote that recently took place outside of England Logistics’ walls:
“I was in the midst of a remodel and my wife and I were cleaning our garage when Jeremy [a leader at England Logistics], and his wife Joanne, who is another leader of ours here, pulled up in the driveway unannounced, unexpected, and had a box of Crumbl cookies and an incredibly impressive note written to both me and my wife. Talk about rays of sunshine and people stepping up and doing the right thing. And Jeremy, no doubt, you were that person before, but you are even more so two weeks into this thing.”
Ryan, speaking to this same instance, reflects on the cause of such kindness in a crisis:
“I think it’s pretty unique that the people you get to work with on a day to day basis, not only care about you, which is a pretty special thing, but then to even go above and beyond and care about the well-being of your family. Jeremy has repeatedly asked me numerous times this week just how my wife and my kids are doing. I think stuff like that is appreciated if not more so than all the great things he does for the business and for the team here.”
When a decision is made to be optimistic, a natural product of optimism is acts of hope, as was demonstrated by Jeremy. These actions are the fibers comprising the rope of tenacity, creating a sturdy link between all members of a company.
3. Unclouded Perspective
Possessing an optimistic perspective isn’t blissful ignorance. Ryan clarifies, “I think we’re very realistic in understanding that there are some difficult things taking place in the world and certainly optimism doesn’t look past those issues.”
Rather than naively dismiss tough circumstances, the power of perspective can be found in examining the opportunities of a trying times. Jason’s reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic is an excellent example of this way of thinking:
“The thing that’s been surprising to me has been this genuine and legitimate sense of invigoration! When I came in Thursday, I was ready! I knew my family was safe and in good order, but I was ready to get back in the saddle. I knew we had a country that needed goods. I knew that the US people needed their toilet paper [laughs]. In additional to all these other things, the people needed their products, I wanted to get back in and be with the team, but there was some element of beyond gratification, it was motivating to know we lived through the start of COVID19 and in the midst of all that we just lived through, an earthquake that rocked our whole world here in Salt Lake… and we’re still cranking!”
When optimism is the norm of a culture, obstacles are only catalysts for growth. A group of optimists are somewhat unstoppable, as each hurdle will only amount in improved performance, further propelling the company, and the individuals, toward inevitable success.
Optimism transforms companies, and in most cases, is a determining factor of their future. But by hiring optimists, is this really a sure-fire way to resolve most a company’s issues?
I can’t say for sure, but I’m optimistic.