Why Half Full Is Always Better Than Half Empty

A shoe factory representative sends out two marketing scouts toa region of Africa to study the prospects for expanding business.  Onesends back a telegram saying,


The other writes back triumphantly,


This excerpt above is, for me,  a very thought provoking one from The Art Of Possibility by Benjamin Zander,a conductor for the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra.  To one Marketingexpert, the evidence suggests there is no growth opportunity here — toanother, an abundance of possibility.  Applying this example closer tohome, think about the difference it makes, whether at work, at home orsomewhere in-between, when people are “content”, positive andoptimistic about what could be – as opposed to those that dwell on“what will never change”, those who are negative or nay-sayers andpessimistic.  Those who consider a half filled cup as half full as opposed to empty….are almost without fail, more successful and certainly more fun be around – whether at work, rest, or play.

So you may wonder, what was the impetus for this post.  Well, I blame Seth.  Know him? If not, take notes. Seth Godin isa highly influential thought leader and riveting writer – touted as amarketing genius, I keep up with his riffs weekly, without fail – andoften find myself long thereafter, recovering from the “impact” of theexperience.  A (poor) anology that comes to mind is that of afterleaving the gym and feeling “physically sore and spent” – but in a“good” way.   And today, The Problem With Positive Thinking did it for me.

What do you see in your “glass”?

Seth encourages us to think positive – even when it’s easier to be negative.  This advice, to me, is universal – but from a Making IT Workperspective, consider your approach – with your team, with yourcustomers, your projects, your work – and most importantly for theleaders out there, with your vision for what could be.

As most IT Professionals, I often wear many hats.  One of the my “so comforable” hats is that of Process Improvement.  An example that comes to mind is the classic AS-IS and TO-BEprocess mapping exercise, so critical in change efforts — both from an“information gathering” perspective as well as the “team ownership andengagement” perspective.

There are many who prefer to call the “TO-BE” by another name – youmight have heard it – the “SHOULD-BE”.  I’ve never liked that term.  Ithas always sounded a little “defeatest” – almost to suggest that wemight not get there, we can’t change, and there will be another “flow”to come which will reflect a more “realistic” view — since after all,we might not have enough information at this point to really be able tosay what the “TO-BE” will look like…

Yes, it all sounds so logical, but I’m putting this out there.  Iwonder if the “SHOULD-BE” crowd are related to the “Glass is HalfEmpty” people.  Because as a member of the “Glass Is Half Full” tribe -I’m still calling it the “TO-BE” process map.

In fact, I’m now thinking that even “TO-BE” isn’t positive enough. How about the “WILL-BE” target process map?  I’m liking that.  Whatabout you? What camp are you in? If you’re in with the “good guys”,what can you do to grow your tribe? If you think you’re with the darkside, why are you there? Can you make the move?

And if you have not read Art Of Possibility– I highly recommend it.  Give it to your team, your spouse, your kids. Talk about it with them. Learn & Grow Together.  And Imagine…thePossibilities!


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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