If any of you manage anything/anybody I want to recommend a friend of mine, a super nice lady from Hawaii Rosa Say. As the economy does what it's doing and seems to steadily ignore what we want it to do Rosa's post are encouraging. (When I say nice in this context I mean that as a compliment. She's been encouraging and friendly to people all over the Internet and takes time from what I know is a busy schedule to encourage people whether she'll ever meet them or not. This is a hugely good character trait in my book.)
I am in favor of encouragement in the face of adversity for a couple reasons.
1) If looking down the barrel of a bad situation being defeatist or negative won't help at all. Just the opposite, hope, optimism, and mutual encouragement can make the going smoother even if they don't address the problem at hand. Attitude is everything.
b) Sometimes weathering bad times isn't a function of anything we do at all... sometimes big giant things happen to us, hurricanes for example, that we can't really do anything about and we just have to wait for it to go away and there are times when being open to new ideas, optimistic, and encouraging foster and create an atmosphere where the community going through it all comes out the other side stronger because of the relationships or ideas formed during the hardship. It may be that sitting around a campfire in the devastation of a tornado brings up conversations that "When this is over we should..." and those things, those building blocks actually come to pass.
iii) Encouraging small behavioral changes, things we CAN do helps build things in areas we can change. I can't personally impact the nation's economy. What I can do is help my employees with savings and maybe with opportunities to increase their pay with sales incentives and bonus programs. I can't help everybody, but I can help those I can help and just because it doesn't stem the tide it does start a ripple that can add to other ripples and maybe that will be enough to change things... or at least moderate things a bit.
There are a lot of opportunities out there to tear people down for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it's just fun to be an ass. I've met people who sincerely believe that by bullying or threatening they can help a situation. Can all situations be dealt with by applying a healthy dose of Pollyanna-juice? Not all, not all the time. But I can't think of a situation where being a jerk was more helpful than being supportive or helpful or encouraging. Maybe it's time to start a random act of kindness campaign if nothing else.
Take a minute, go check out Rosa's blog and http://talkingstory.org/2011/10/3-job-options-of-m