The Pros and Cons of Believing the Best

A couple weeks ago I blogged on the pros and cons of assuming the worst. (Yes indeed there are a few upsides to always waiting for the other shoe to drop. You can read that post here.) Today, I want to focus on my preferred mindset – believing the best. Though there are people who have a naturally glass-half-full outlook on life, believing the best is not a mood or a perspective. It’s a decision. We choose to believe the best, even when we don’t feel like it.

Pros of Believing the Best

  • Colleagues can borrow our confidence in them until they build up their own.
  • We create an environment where employees are encouraged to rise to their potential.
  • Forgiveness and grace come easier.
  • Mistakes are viewed as learning opportunities rather than failures.
  • We gain our fulfillment, not by what we accomplish alone, but in watching and helping others succeed.

Cons of Believing the Best

  • We may gloss over skills or character flaws that others might easily notice.
  • We tend to think we can help anyone improve, but you can’t force someone to be better. They have to want it and work for it, too.
  • We struggle in knowing when to separate from an employee or a relationship because we don’t like giving up.
  • We tend to take ownership of others’ failures. “If I’d only helped them more, spent more time with them…etc.”

I had the opportunity to live this concept out over the past few months. We brought on a teammate for a temporary opportunity, despite some concerns a few trusted colleagues had. And yes, we did end up encountering some challenges my perceptive colleagues saw coming. Yet, I’m still glad we did it, and I don’t regret our time and investment in this person.

Why? Because we can’t judge a person by their resume or personality quirks, and we can’t grow them just through policies and procedures. Impacting another life means being willing to roll up our sleeves and meet others in their mess. (Where’s the fulfillment in working with people who are already perfect?) We can use our energy assuming the worst and saying “I told you so,” or we can invest in others and make them better.

How are you helping others leave you better than they came?


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