Cultivating a Mindset of Optimism

Mar 12, 2023 | Articles, Director Insights, Leadership

By Pauline Orr

The mindset of optimism is a curious one that can be applied to both personal and professional situations and settings. It can come naturally to some, and for others, it’s a learned skill that must be honed over time. Optimism is not ignoring the reality of the situation by applying fake positivity; rather, it is seeing the obstacles and hurdles in our way and actively choosing to take the path of hope. 

In healthcare, especially over the past two years, it has been extremely challenging for many of us to dig deep and find that optimism. The healthcare clinical workforce crisis is one area where we must apply this skill. Healthcare worker turnover and increased vacancy rates are contributing to a vicious cycle that leads to workforce tensions like none we have seen before. Interventions and actions must be taken quickly to improve the supply and demand needed to heal the workforce. 

Can we be optimistic as we face a healthcare industry dominated by shortages? Would it not be easier for us to accept this daunting future and wallow in our own circumstances? Robert Frost’s poem ”The Road Not Taken” reminds us of the directions we can take in life; some are pathways not always chosen. “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both… .” Can we take the road less traveled? Isn’t the absolute direness of the situation easier for us to accept?

 We must tap into our tendencies to choose a pathway that is optimistic and instills hope and inspiration. The most influential and successful leaders are those that see the road for all its good and actively decide to apply optimism while not forgetting the difficulties ahead. Having a balance of confidence and hopefulness can help us navigate the healthy dose of hurdles in our way. In 2023, I hope you choose the road less traveled. The one less burdened by doubt, doom, and despair. It will make all the difference. 

Read the full Robert Frost poem here.

Pauline Orr, DNP, MSN, RN, NE-BC, CENP, is Chief Nursing Executive, Sutter Lakeside Hospital, and former Co-Chair of CAHL’s Clinical Leadership Committee