Pragmatic Optimism #1: A positive take on why people are coming together during the pandemic

April 28, 2020

Pragmatic Optimism #1: A positive take on why people are coming together during the pandemic

Pragmatic optimism

This is an idea for a small video series that came into my mind a couple of weeks into the pandemic, when scrolling through the news feeds / social media feeds was just a sea of gloom.

I thought: Well, what can I do to change it up a little? Could I bring a bit of brightness into the feed? And in particular, because I'm not a 'rah rah' inspiration kind of guy, I thought that perhaps I could bring a bit of 'pragmatic optimism' into it. To be clear - as I'm sure many have different takes on what that phrase means - I simply mean being optimistic in a structured way, but looking at messages that may have meaningful takeaways that we can apply now, or in the future.

Anyway - here's the first video.


Hey everyone, Scott here. Hope you're all well or as well as can be. I know it's a challenging time for a lot of people and it can be tough to sometimes scroll through the news feeds and just see all this doom and gloom.

But as many people before me have pointed out, this has also been a really interesting and unique opportunity for us as a society and a community to come together and kinda hit the pause button, if not even the reset button, and think about what kind of a future we want to build into. And I thought that perhaps beyond ColourSpace, if there's anything I can do, it might be to share a bit of brightness in that doom and gloom.

In particular, I am inspired by a really good friend of mine. She's a doctor, she's currently on the front lines and we had a conversation the other day and she said this, "I go to the hospital every day and I treat people who are sick. I help them recover. But I also know that this pandemic is having some pretty significant impact on our society, and on our economy, and on our community. And those are things that I really can't do anything about. I just go to the hospital and I treat people. But I do take heart that there are people like yourself who are in startups, in business, in government, that you'll look after the rest of society and you'll help build the environment for people to come back into."

And so that really inspired me and is the reason why I'm recording this. Now, people who know me know that I'm not really a 'rah rah' inspiration kind of guy, but I thought if there's anything that I might be able to do, it would be to bring, I guess, my own brand of 'pragmatic optimism' to this.

What I mean by that is I kinda wanna look at some things that are happening in Australia and around the world and really just have a think about what are some practical, effective takeaways that we can apply to ourselves as individuals, as a community, as businesses, perhaps even as government.

And so the first thing that I want to reflect on is simply this idea that we've all come together as a nation to agree on self isolating for the greater good. Now, if we actually put the pandemic aside for a moment and just think about that fact. That's kind of incredible! So many people have agreed to put aside personal ideologies, political leanings or religious leanings to come together as a community because we know that this is important and this is something that benefits everybody irrespective of whether it impacts us directly or not. That's actually kind of incredible.

If we look under the hood of it, there's a few different reasons why. Strong leadership is definitely a factor, but I think equally strong followership is also a factor. Those are things that are quite meaty, I'll cover them in future videos.

The thing that I really wanna talk about today, is I think a big part of the reason why we're all agreeing to do this, is that we all understand the message behind it all. We understand why, we understand the impact, the benefits, the outcomes, and because we all understand that, we're willing to come together as a community.

Now, yes, I'm aware that hovering behind us is also a police presence, that there is a 'stick' for people who flout the laws, but I really strongly believe that those are the exceptions rather than the norm. Which suggests that actually for the most part, so many of us are just doing the right thing.

There's one other nuance that I think is really intriguing and that's this. We're often taught in business or a government that we always have to think about the bigger picture in terms of how it's relevant for the individual, you know: "What's in it for me". And there's an idea that often this has to play to fulfilling a personal, almost selfish need. But with the pandemic, what we're seeing is that there's a lot of people who are buying into the message even though the message doesn't necessarily benefit them 'selfishly'.

And I think that's really intriguing, right? Because I think the reality is that there's a lot of people who understand that the pandemic probably won't have a direct impact on our lives. There's people who just won't get sick, and yet we're still coming together as a community for the greater good. And I just think that that's again, incredible.

And so my biggest takeaway from this all is simply this, that if we put forward a clear message that is authentic, that people understand and can relate to, then we see that people will put aside personal differences. We'll put aside ideologies to come together as a community.

And I guess the same question would apply for anyone who might be watching. Within your business, within your organization. These messages that are putting out, are they clear? Are they relatable for people? Because if they are? Yes, let's take heart in the fact that people will come together.

And so there you have it. That's my first bit of 'pragmatic optimism'. I hope that this has helped. There's a few more that I want to do going forward, but in the meantime, please stay safe, stay healthy, please stay upbeat.

And if you have any thoughts you wanna add to this, or even if you just want to flame me, please feel free to drop a comment below.

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