Realists and Idealists and Painters


We love the good ol'-- is the glass half empty or half full. By one's choice, we can determine if he/she is an optimist or pessimist. And then those people get labeled "idealists" and "realists". And the idealists live in utopia, out of touch with the hard realities of life while the realists get the core of what's going on and remind us all to forget change and relish in negativity. I've seen where these labels, in the workplace and beyond, can create a false illustration of the mindset of people, especially those who get labeled as idealists. (Shameless self identification here.) 

Positivity in the workplace is often dubbed as an ideally-minded person, someone who smiles a lot and keep the mood up in the room, and always points out the positive side of the scenario. And the realists often are dubbed as the skeptics in the back of the room ready to raise a hand to forecast all of the missing links, all that can go wrong. 

And while some of these attributes may be true, for better or for worst, this idealist vs. realist mindset, that you are one or the other, is not very helpful. What is also not helpful for young professionals is to think we then have to take on this character in the workplace (and beyond) based on what group we identify with.

I've seen some leaders model great examples of being visionary BECAUSE of being in touch with the reality of circumstances AND painting a picture or getting us all to paint a picture of "what if". They paint the core of what's going on, describing it in a way that you know-- they know what's up here. And then they lead us to re-create and re-paint the situation at hand. Sometimes not smiling and sometimes at the risk of the mood in the room. 

What if young professionals started to appreciate these painters for the display of both idealism and realism? To want to become like these great leaders? As people who find our place in the middle of these two-- who don't dub the idealists as out of touch or the realist as downers. 

This is also what I've seen from these leaders:

1. It takes discipline: to think and to feel and see. Instead of engulfing in emotions that sway us in extremes, these people are disciplined to think AND feel, followed by painting the picture of "what if". It's easier to spiral in various directions; it takes discipline to keep steady. 

2. They live lives in touch with the core of the work: No wonder the picture can be painted so well, it's because they are living it. Let's give some love to our skeptics-- no wonder that is the sentiment because we often have people in positions of power or authority who make no effort to understand the core of what they are doing. 

3. Authenticity: This one is oh-so key. The words they use, the tone they speak with, the attitude... it all bears weight in carrying this painters message.