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Finding your true north

Keep your head above water. Turn your face to the sun. Chin up.

To a naturally positive person the meaning of each of these statements seems so obvious they will be wondering why I am even bothering to write about this.

But that’s not the case for everyone.

People with a naturally negative outlook will find these statements trite, inaccurate, foolhardy, and unrealistic. After all, would a warrior go smiling into battle? Of course not, he would put his head down and charge.

And there are those who find such statements confusing and even stressful because they conjure up both positive and negative thoughts.

But does the fact that people have negative thoughts make those people negative?

Or is there perhaps a third category of people constantly seeking – some would say struggling – to maintain their footing in a world that is presently dominated by two far larger opposing forces?

And if this third category of people actually exist, what can we discern about them and what can they show us about taking a balanced approach to life?

So, what do I mean by this?

Well, let me ask a question: is a pragmatist positive or negative?

According to US News & World Report contributor Curt Rosengren, this can be argued either way in that “positive pragmatism empowers you to move forward; needlessly negative pragmatism is an excuse to stay stuck”.

So, what’s the correct answer?

What if I told you that the correct answer is neither in that the true pragmatist specialises on weighing all sides of a situation and then makes a calculated, rational decision.

In short, the pragmatist specialises in intentionally bringing obstacles to light for the expressed purpose of finding a way over, under, through or around them, making them a lover of problem-solving.

Ironically, while the pragmatist is highly goal-oriented, infinitely patient, and willing to work with just about anyone to achieve an objective, they are also frequently shunned or overlooked by those who view the world from either of the polar extremes because they view the world from an unfamiliar perspective.

Some would even accuse pragmatists of being indecisive because they often initially appear hesitant to act when they can see obstacles in their path.

But is this merely indecisiveness or could this be the application of wisdom?

It’s fair to say that it depends on the circumstances but, as a rule, would you really throw a plan into action that you knew only had a small chance of succeeding? What if you also knew that you could most likely figure out a better way of handling things if you considered the matter from every angle possible?

Better yet who would you really want most on your team if you had to find your way through a maze? The person who ran enthusiastically up and down every blind alley knowing they would eventually figure it out? The kill joy who refused to try because it seemed futile? Or the pragmatist who climbed up a ladder and surveyed the landscape from every direction before heading out?

Robin Trimingham is the chief operating officer of The Olderhood Group Ltd and a virtual presenter, journalist, podcaster and thought leader in the fields of life transition and change management. Connect with Robin at https://bit.ly/3nSMlvc or robin@olderhood.com

If you had to find your way through a maze would you want the help of the pragmatist who climbed up a ladder and surveyed the landscape before heading out?

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Published July 27, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated July 22, 2021 at 8:27 pm)

Finding your true north

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