Meet the Muses: Optimism

In this second installment of Meet the Muses, I’m going to introduce you to optimism.

Optimism whispers to us what could be possible and compels us to take risks. They inspire the devotion of an ingenue and the conviction of a visionary. With optimism by our side, we have the audacity to trust the process and feel instilled with hope when our values and freedoms are taken for granted, or taken away. Optimism is never complacent or complicit, nor does optimism dismiss or fail to resist the real challenges of life. Optimism is resistance that creates.  `

In the next installment of Meet the Muses, I’ll introduce you to Joy.

Meet the Muses

I first heard the word muse when I was completely enchanted by the movie Xanadu as a five-year-old. In the movie, Olivia Newton John portrays a muse who inspires a painter to complete a record album cover. Aside from the great music (i.e. Magic by Olivia Newton John and I’m Alive by Electric Light Orchestra) and roller skating, there was something more to the movie for me–I felt intrigued by the idea of a muse, or a source of inspiration.

In Greek mythology, there are nine muses–the daughters of Mnemosine and Zeus who are goddesses of the arts and science and often portrayed as voluptuous women with exposed breasts and alluring smiles. When I created this blog, it was not to suggest that I was a muse in this vein. Rather, I wanted to play with the idea that we can inspire each other, and also be inspired by the non-human world. The intent of this blog is to be a source of inspiration which sparks many more ideas from you.

And so I’ve given some thought to what inspires me, and it seems fitting that I should explain that to you in depth as the basis for further conversation at the Activist’s Muse. Over the next several weeks, I’ll be describing each of the eight muses that I have identified as an important source of inspiration to me.

  • October 4, 2021 – Optimism
  • October 18, 2021 – Joy
  • November 11, 2021 – Transformation
  • November 15, 2021 – Integrity
  • November 29, 2021 – Wisdom
  • December 13, 2021 – Community
  • December 27, 2021 – Creativity
  • January 10, 2022 – Meaning

These words are what some people might call values. They are that, but so much more to me. A value is something that is pre-defined that we feel obliged to follow because of our faith, the law, or our moral compass. A muse is, instead, an open-ended source of inspiration and enrichment. I’ll explain who each of the muses are, how they inspire me, and how I tune into them in the weeks that follow.

Headbanger’s Rule #9: Adapt and Thrive

In 1984, Def Leppard Drummer Rick Allen was in a terrible car accident in which he lost is left arm. While his arm was fundamentally critical to his profession, he remained in the band – and one of the best drummers in the Heavy Metal universe – by using a customized drum set built to accommodate his new physical limitation. When we lose something that is so much a part of who we are, even when we are dependent upon it for our survival, we can adapt and thrive by creatively responding to the new circumstances of our lives.

Constructive Creativity

I love being creative and engaging in spaces where anything and everything is possible. Yet, sometimes this can be overwhelming and lead to a sense of frustration rather than liberation. When the ultimate goal is to make a decision or perform an action, constructive creativity may be useful.

Constructive creativity is a way to be effectively innovative. Using this method, the area of inquiry is clearly defined. This process can require a bit of time for discussion and reflection. A common understanding of what is to be investigated is fully articulated. From that common starting point, the creative journey begins. This way, the exploratory process is focused on the specific goal of the creative endeavor and the time invested is directed toward results.

Manage Things, Not People

As leaders, we often also have management responsibilities. I think it is important to remember that we should manage things rather than people.

We can manage money, time, processes, and projects so that our goals and objectives are achieved.   Interactions with other people on the team should consist of guidance, support, encouragement, and access to information and resources. It is not usually necessary to tell others what to do or how to do it; however, agreements about behavior can be developed through dialogue. Shifting management from people to things keeps us focused on our goals; it challenges us to always think of process and project outcomes rather than the minutiae of specific activities. It also creates space for freedom of expression, creativity, and innovation.

I have also found that some people have been conditioned to desire specific direction in their work. Others may not be a good fit for their job or the organization and therefore detailed instructions, if not termination, are required. By getting to know each individual employee, we can determine how to best support and lead each person so that they can realize both their human potential and organizational goals.

The new, new counterculture

The new, new counterculture is shifting our focus

From dialectical to cooperative

From material to spiritual

From critical to creative

From confrontational to compassionate

The new, new counterculture does not forget the old ways, but rather incorporates them into a greater whole.

How have you experienced the new, new counterculture in your work and in your life?

The Unlearning Organization

In the unlearning organization, everything we have ever taken for granted is questioned, dissected, or discarded. Our knowledge, assumptions, and beliefs are in motion.

In the unlearning organization, there are no bad ideas and mistakes are inevitable. There is continual creativity, ingenuity, and risk.

In the unlearning organization, there is limitless possibility. People are liberated from the past, from the future, and most importantly from themselves.

In the unlearning organization, satisfaction and complacency are unknown. The ultimate goal is to fully experience the joy of each moment as it unfolds.

Balancing Continuity and Creativity

Continuity connects us to our past. It makes us feel secure and grounded. It adds an element of familiarity and predictability to life which is reassuring.

Creativity is our future. It is the unknown emergent possibility. It is surprising, fun, and exciting.

The present is the fulcrum that balances continuity and creativity, balancing the weight of each.

We experience continuity and creativity in our lives both separately and simultaneously. They both support and oppose each other. The new cannot be understood without the context of the old. The old holds spaces for the new to materialize through disintegration or disconnection.