Is Your Glass Half Full or Half Empty

... Article by Jeff Haltrecht

Jeff Haltrecht is a principal Leadership Coach at the Polaris Learning Academy and the Facilitator of the Polaris Alumni; he is a regular contributor to Polaris Digest

If your manager asked for your team’s help in turning around a troubled division, would you see it as an opportunity for personal growth — approaching the situation with confidence — or would you think this probably can’t be done as others have tried before you with marginal success?

I most always find that when a glass is half full, it’s our wisdom driving our thinking, while if its half empty, it’s our knowledge holding us back. Framing situations is a result of past experiences, our self-awareness, and our comfort with the unknown.  A subconsciously learned fear of failure will often hold us back.

Driving this is a mix of early upbringing — how mom and dad helped us view the world — and how previous managers’ dealt with us when a mistake was made.  If we were taught to positively learn from our actions and apply this knowledge in a new and evolutionary way, we will have the confidence to look at what could be.

Being half full requires asking a few questions, starting with… ‘With adequate resources, what can we achieve?’  Here are a few others:

  • If we start from scratch, what would this look like when done right?
  • What would success feel like?
  • Where could we be in the future?
  • Who will be the key contributors?
  • What would contribute to the success of each one of us?

The key to this approach lies with our ability to assess the resources needed to accomplish the task.  First we define the success that we are seeking – we become ‘solutions-focused’ or ‘outcome-oriented’, then we concern ourselves with how we can best move forward.

While your manager does not expect you to know everything, he/she does expect you to balance your wisdom (What can be done?) with your knowledge (How can we accomplish this?).

By leveraging our past experiences, along with a good understanding of our strengths, we assess the time, money, and people required to be successful.  With that perspective in hand, we can now confidently say ‘My team would be honored to contribute to fixing the troubled division!’