Invisible Ponies

Invisible Ponies

As people and as an organization it is easy to get stuck when you look into the future. How you look forward can determine how much headway you make into your dreams and goals. Sometimes it even determines whether or not you have dreams or goals.

It doesn’t take a lot of research to discover that there are at least two ways to look at the world around us. We use various examples: glasses that are half-filled, sports analogies, and many other topics.

I was recently reminded of a story that Ronald Reagan made famous that goes like this:

The parents of two brothers, one an incurable pessimist and the other an incurable optimist, took their sons to see a doctor in the hopes of curing the boys of their respective conditions. The physician started with the young pessimist. He took the boy into a room brimming with a mountain of new toys. “These are all yours,” the doctor said. Immediately, the young pessimist burst into tears. “What’s wrong?” His parents asked. “If I play with the toys,” the boy sobbed, “surely they will all break and be ruined.”

Next, the doctor tried his hand with the young optimist. Instead of toys, the doctor took his patient into a room filled with a mountain of horse dung. “This is for you.” The doctor told him. With that, the boy smiled so wide he could have eaten a banana sideways. Excited, he raced to the top of the mountain of manure, where, with his bare hands, he began digging into the pungent heap. Baffled, the doctor and the parents looked at one another quizzically, “Son,” the father asked. “What in heaven’s name do you think you’re doing?”

“Well,” the boy replied, “with all this horse dung, I figure there’s got to be a pony in there somewhere!”

There’s really no need to spend the next couple of paragraphs reiterating the point of the story. It’s pretty self-explanatory. However, I would like you to think about how you focus the point of the story in your life.

It’s easy enough to land on the idea that you need to have a positive outlook on your day. The daily things that come at you, the way you look toward tomorrow, and how you deal with bad news are all things that require you to maintain a certain perspective.

However, if you leave this concept at the surface level of those topics you miss the point.

I’m sure you have had people in your life at one point or another with whom you have taken this perspective. Contrary to what others told you, you believed that there was something deep inside of them at the heart level that was worth investing in.

Sometimes you were proven right and sometimes you weren’t – that’s part of the way life works. But you wouldn’t have felt right if you hadn’t at least tried.

How you treat each person matters. How you view them will determine how you treat them. Do you view your staff and peers as people who have the skill and ability to do their job well? Do you start from the perspective that they desire to see positive results the same way you do?

What if you walked into your office every day with the idea that each person you work with has an invisible pony inside of them? Because they do.

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