This article was sent to me from my current organization and I loved it so much I thought I would republish it. “PERPETUAL OPTIMISM”
By Ch, Col Shon Neyland, AFMC Command Chaplain
“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard
work.” --Secretary Colin Powell
In this season of festivities and holiday settings, dreams often come to mind as we begin to think
about the past year and the way ahead. It is during this time of year (closing out the old and beginning
with the new), we begin to dream, if you will, of what can change in our lives. We dream about what
can become better. Perhaps we dream about our careers improving or reaching the next level; maybe
we dream of having better relationships and/or family life; we dream of changing our living conditions in
one way or another; or we dream about what’s the next step after the military. In the end, as Secretary
Colin Powell stated, a dream doesn’t become reality through magic (even though this a time of magical
thoughts and feelings in terms of the holiday season) it takes “sweat, determination, and hard work.”
To have a dream shows that we are looking ahead, we are
planning for the future, and we are trying to reach certain goals
in life. But what do we do when our dreams seem unreachable?
I submit to you we turn to Perpetual Optimism. Secretary Powell
also said, “Perpetual Optimism is a Force Multiplier.” Perpetual
Optimism is the ability to see through the most challenging and
difficult moments, while pursuing your dreams, and not giving
up. Let’s face it, we will all face challenges in life, whether it is
relationships, legal, financial, or work-related.
Secretary Powell, the son of Jamaican immigrants, would rise
through the military ranks to reach pinnacle offices and positions
in his illustrious career. He would shape national strategic policy
in America for several decades. With an elite military career as
an Army Ranger, Combat Infantryman, and member of the Air
Assault Division, Secretary Powell would rise to highest military
and national levels and served as National Security Advisor (1987–1989), as Commander of the US Army
Forces Command (1989) and as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989–1993), holding the latter
position during the Persian Gulf War. Secretary Powell retired as a four-star General from the US Army
and went on to serve as the 65th US Secretary of State from 2001 to 2005. It is an amazing American
story, yet not free of trouble, despair, tough times, or even failure, but a story of Perpetual Optimism.
Optimism is a mental attitude reflecting a belief or hope that the outcome of some specific endeavor
will be positive and favorable. The term derives from the Latin optimum, meaning "best." Most have
heard the phrase, “The best is yet to come!” This phraseology points to optimal thinking. It does not
mean you ignore problems or tough situations, but you believe that a positive attitude will enable you to
go forward and future conditions will work out for the best.
There are many different things that can give us optimism in the midst of tough times. I personally rely
heavily on the Comprehensive Airman Fitness domains (Physical, Social, Mental, and Spiritual). Like
many of you, it is the Spiritual domain along with the Mental domain that are very important and critical
for my life. My faith sustains me through the most difficult times. A positive mindset helps me to see
encouraging outcomes no matter how demanding or challenging it gets. For others, it may be the Social
domain or connection with family and friends that gives you the greatest sense of optimism. Perhaps it
is the Physical domain that gives others strength and maximum assurance that things will get better.
Studies suggest a strong link between optimism and psychological well-being. Those who are optimistic
tend to be less stressed, more secure, and emboldened with resilience. None of us are perfect, but may
I encourage you to strive to live a life embodied by perpetual optimism. It is through perpetual
optimism that we can dream again, experience confidence in life, and reach the highest levels in our
lives and careers.