What's Your Outlook?

Bonjour tout la monde! I’m back from another great vacation among our charming and zestful friends in “la belle province.” Maybe it’s the food. Maybe it’s the wine. Maybe it’s the late nights. Maybe it’s the culture and history but les Quebecoise certainly do have a certain joie de vivre. Despite their harsh winters, a poor summer, downturn in the natural resources sector that’s mirrored that in British Columbia, and a dramatic decline in manufacturing and tourism nothing much seems to phase the hard working, family-oriented people of Montreal and rural areas in the rest of the province. They approach life and economic challenges with determination and resilience to do the best they can for what is most important to them; all the while looking to diversify and capitalize on new opportunities. That sounds somewhat familiar doesn’t it?
A nearly cross-country plane ride gives a person lots of time to think so I got to wondering what it is that really defines expectations, outcomes, success and, ultimately, happiness; especially in retrospect of all the great people I’ve met. The common thread shared among the happiest of people I met there or really, anywhere, for that matter, is their outlook on life. And, my friends and foes, there is even more to your outlook than the attitude with which you choose to approach each day. Further to attitude is your basic outlook you have about the world around you, how it affects you and how you affect it. Which one of these basic 3 outlooks describes your approach and attitude to the world and those around you?
1. Murphy’s Law: “If it can go wrong, it will.”
While sometimes it seems bad things happen no matter what you seemingly do if you buy into the outlook of a world governed by Murphy’s Law then I believe you’re starting the day from the back of the pack. If Murphy’s Law actually existed then there would be no winners; only losers. There would be no victories; only losses. There would be no successes; only failures. There would be no fire, only a lonely caveman named Ugh eating cold mammoth. Okay, Ugh may have burned himself a few times before he figured out that “fire hot” but “make food taste good” the fact of the matter is that Murphy’s Law lies in the way of “nothing ventured nothing gained.”
2. Law of Averages: “Life even things out over time.”
People who believe in the Law of Averages think that the natural path of life will eventually even things out no matter what we do. While this thought is a little more positive than Murphy’s Law it is no more productive because it basically yields all control and personal accountability to luck, happenstance, serendipity, whatever you want to call leaving your fate to chance. Even more disconcerting to me than the thought that “well, eventually if I have 5 negative things happen to me the law of averages will have me expect to receive 5 good things” is the complete abdication of personal responsibility and trust in…what? The law of averages simply doesn’t exist. For proof, try flipping a coin. Although unlikely, it is possible that you get Heads 100% of the time. There is no cosmic rule that tails should come up as many times as heads. If you believe in the law of averages you may be waiting a very, very long time for dumb luck to call your side of the coin.
3. Law of Gravity: “Something always there to pull you down if you don’t work to bring yourself up.”
Have you ever watched a tub of captured lobsters? (If not, what are you doing on a Friday night then?!) There always seems to be one lobster in the bunch that isn’t going to give in easily to its fate of boiling water, melted butter and a plate mate of New York strip and garlic mashed potatoes. This lobster is industrious and hardworking, doing its very best to crawl up the side of the tub hoping to claw its way to the top and, hopefully, back to freedom of the ocean. No matter the lobster or the tub just when one of these hopeful few nearly gets to freedom one of its fellow captures is quick to clamp down on its tail and pull it back down into the remaining “confederacy of dunces” as Terry McIvor would note. Unfortunately, it seems that there are a lot of defeatist lobsters in our midst trying to pull those down that strive to reach up to their goals. If it’s not someone there to knock your idea or determination then there’s always going to be another challenge. Whether it’s a difficult co-worker, business partner, teacher, topic, lender, bureaucrat, supplier, customer, neighbour, family or so-called friend there are plenty of tests of conviction, passion, principal and confidence facing everyone; not just entrepreneurs, each day. Going back to our lobster friend fighting for his freedom, you too, need to achieve your own self-determination and be accountable for your own choices and decisions you make if you are to achieve positive outcomes.
Grandma’s old saying that nothing worth having comes easy is true. Even though things don’t always go right, don’t expect them to always go wrong. Conversely, don’t rely on universal forces to change your luck for the better. If each of us wants to achieve what will truly make us happy each and every day we need to evaluate our personal outlook on life. Understand what it is you want to achieve. Do you want to passively await a fate determined by someone else or do you want to crawl up and strive for your own destiny under your own terms and time? If you want control, surround yourself with other positive, like-minded “lobsters”. So, instead of being pulled down by negative crustaceans perhaps you can all work together to give each other a claw or hand up. These choices and decisions to make are yours and yours alone. If you don’t agree then I suggest you travel to meet some of mes amies in Ville Vieux or shellfish on the shores of Nova Scotia to see how attitude and effort can impact your day in a positive way. By the way, if you watch enough lobsters in enough tubs, you will see more than one achieve their goal!