An Exciting Time

By Rick Thomas
President & CEO
The STRIVE Group

Opportunities previously unimaginable are on the horizon.

“What an exciting time to be alive!” Yes, he said it. Who says something like that in these trying times? With all the social and political turmoil, not to mention the technical disruption, this kind of optimism felt out of place. But there he was standing before me, this man in his mid-fifties, eyes gleaming with enthusiasm and the anticipatory energy of a runner in the starting blocks. There were plenty of good conversations to be had that day. And yet, the most memorable moment was this gentleman’s one-liner and the optimism his eyes conveyed.

He is right, you know. Opportunities previously unimaginable lie before us with only our imagination, our willingness to commit, and, most important of all, our attitude as limiting factors. I have heard it said, “The most important decision a person makes in their lifetime is whether the world is inherently for them or against them.” I have always believed this to be true and that this single decision prejudices all of its subordinates and, ultimately, one’s attitude. The statement implies that a for or against decision, once made, is final. But in truth, the polarities of our life experience and the wealth of information absorbed on any given day can result in a cornerstone shift and attitude reorientation.

Times have changed. The once rhythmic drip of information coming from sources like the evening news and the daily paper have become a torrent of newsfeeds and opinion. This increased information flow, when combined with the bad and sensational rising to the top of the news cycle, can be a catalyst for people feeling the negative pull. It is the corrosive nature of the negative that eventually gives way to a pessimistic view. This pessimism erodes not only our world view, but our individual sense of security and overall wellbeing – we become fearful.

Is it really true that the negative represents the majority view? Or, for that matter, even a substantial minority? I think not. And it is the purpose of the STRIVE platform to make visible the positive narrative. STRIVE brings forward innovative people and ideas that express the mass of positive energy that lies just below the surface of the day’s headlines. I have always found the majority of people I interact with to be positive. Since launching STRIVE in July 2016, that experience has been continually reinforced. I have had conversations with individuals from Berlin to Queensland and found unwavering optimism for the future and enthusiastic support for a platform that shares a positive vision of the horizon.

There have always been challenging times, and we have always had to adapt. Our current circumstance is only different in that technology serves as a change-accelerator and the internet is an indiscriminate echo chamber: It reverberates and amplifies news and opinion based on algorithms, and perhaps even controlling bias, rather than constructive content and long-term value.

It is a fact that we will not be able to control the pace of change. However, it is equally true that we can control how we respond. The attitude and intent we carry into the future is entirely an individual responsibility. Truth be told, our response and our contribution to the world are the only things we have ever been able to control. The choice is ours. It always has been.

(This article first appeared in the JAN - MAR 2018 issue of STRIVE)