Sunday’s Irish Independent had an interesting front page article about Enda Kenny, the Irish Prime Minister – who has been critical of the way in which the Catholic church has handled (or mishandled) child abuse by priests. His speech, essentially telling the Vatican that they are not above Irish law, has been widely praised – which in itself is a major sea change in the Irish attitude to the church. Up until not that many years ago, it would have been unthinkable to speak out like this and even now, there is a certain surprise that a politician has done so.
However, the part of the article that I found most interesting was the reflection on Kenny’s optimistic approach. The conclusion reached was that he isn’t the cleverest or wittiest of men, but that his ‘upbeat temperament’ meant that life comes to meet him and is maybe exactly what the Irish need at the moment.
Many years ago, I had a boss for whom the glass was always half empty – with the result that what he expected usually happened. A nice guy, but it was very difficult to work for him. My colleague and I were getting so worn down by this that we decided to do something about it and came up with a variation of the Pollyanna ‘Glad Game’. Every time our boss said something pessimistic, we would turn it round into something positive. It took a couple of weeks, but he got the message and, being a nice guy, did something about it. He was easier to work with after this and projects went much more smoothly. I’ve carried that lesson with me ever since and have developed a learned optimism that stands me in good stead today. Looks like Enda Kelly uses positivity to get results on a much larger canvas – we turned around one person, he is looking to turn around a country. Just goes to show that optimism is a tool that can be used on any scale.