Are You an Optimist?

The concept of optimism has been catching my eye — and ear — a lot lately.  Word is spreading about the findings from functional brain imaging studies as well as those from psychology which show that positive emotions improve creativity and strategic thinking.  Harvard Business Review had a recent cover story this year titled  “The Science of Happiness” which emphasized how optimism and positive thinking is important to business success and to leadership.  Optimism is also the core message behind That Used to Be Us, a current New York Times best-seller.  Even the cover story in a January issue of Time Magazine was about optimism.

This emphasis on optimism and the focus on its importance has become particularly meaningful to me since becoming president of the ASC.   I have been struck by the number of members who told me that they enjoyed my address at the ASC annual meeting in November because of its optimism.   And following my first presidential blog in January, I received many positive comments personally and in e-mails on the optimism of my message.  Its always nice to get compliments, but this has also left me a bit puzzled.  Was my optimism somehow unusual or unexpected?  Does this mean that the members of the ASC are not optimistic?

Less than optimal optimism may be because medicine and healthcare are changing a lot, and therefore, the cytopathology profession – both cytotechnologists and cytopathologists — must change, too.  As we well know, change is often uncomfortable. But change can also be exciting since it offers new opportunities for creativity and growth.  Finding these kind of opportunities in the midst of change is what makes me energized and optimistic about leading the ASC this year, and inspires me in my work as a department chair and as a cytopathologist.   I think that there are probably lots of members who – like me – like the challenge of puzzling out solutions to these issues, learning and applying new skills, taking on new roles, and shaping the future.   The opportunity to be creative and address challenges is, in fact, what makes some careers more desirable than others, and can keep a profession from becoming stale or out-of-date.  And providing support and resources to nurture creativity, addressing change and enhance opportunities is what a good professional society, like the ASC, should be all about.

Optimism to fuel creativity and address challenges will be an important part of the ASC’s strategic planning effort this year.   As medicine and healthcare changes, everyone in the ASC needs to think about what we value as individuals in our own professional activities, and what our priorities should be as a society so that we can advance our member’s professional growth and ensure that we meet the healthcare needs of our patients and communities.  We need to think about how we can best focus the ASC’s activities in order to meet these priorities.  The thought and introspection provided from our members — hopefully founded in optimism — will allow the ASC to develop activities and resources and enable us all to evolve to meet new healthcare needs.  This strategic planning effort will also help us develop our new journal and ensure that it becomes a vehicle for advancing the values and goals of the ASC.

Soon you will be asked to participate in our strategic planning effort.  This will include participating in surveys and perhaps even discussion boards, too — I hope that you will respond.  In addition, I hope that you will share your thoughts on this blog, and post comments and ideas on our facebook page.  Connecting and sharing with others as part of a community is a reason many members join and remain active with the ASC – and this enhances optimism and success, too.  I look forward to your ideas and contributions!

Lydia Pleotis Howell MD, ASC President

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7 thoughts on “Are You an Optimist?

  1. I love your optimism, but for me, I am facing the possibility of a Cytotechnology Program closure. I will be retiring soon and the University wants to close the program at my retirement. I have a local letter campaign going to try to influence the Dean of our College not to close the program. If anyone would like to help, please send your comments to:
    Charlottee Royeen, PhD, Saint Louis University, Doisy College of Health Sciences, Allied Health Professions Building, Office of the Dean, 3437 Caroline Street, St. Louis, MO.

    Help me get my optimism back. Thanks for any help you can provide.

  2. Great message, Lydia! I believe optimism can also help us be better innovators, looking for unconventional solutions to the challenges in our profession. I am up for it! 🙂

  3. I am optimistic since I have chosen cytopathology as a profession. I am neither ac CT or Pathologist because I have been graduated from Medical Science College. We have both clinical and technical background. With regard to British system I am Biomedical professional and typical my title is Biomedical Scientist (Clinical Cytologist). My optimism can further be achieved if the ASC Future Vision to Cytopathology is achieved through expanding roles of CTs as Cytopathology Practitioners. The ASC must be proud as sole world professional association with both CTs and Pathologists under one umbrella. Since its establishment historically the ASC was promoted by both parties the CTs and Pathologists. We know as ASC Bylaws states the presidency is sole right of the pathologists. No matter if the leadership of ASC is promoted by pathologists but still the ASC internally must recognize the CTs roles. I am advocate of the ASC, CTs and pathologists as I am a scientist member. I am very optimistic as scientist title recognizes really my practice status. I am optimistic to see involved in regrading CTs, prevent Cytotechnology Schools closure, provide protected title for Cytologists and ASC Must consider that its membership title will be used by its members such Fellow (FASC), Member (MASC). Also I am optimistic to see ASC providing consultant title to Cytologists and involved in job promotion of its members, that is my optimism since I joined ASC in 2005.

  4. I really enjoyed your blog post, Lydia! I think you capture the entire concept with excitement and enthusiasm. Ralph Waldo Emerson said that “nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” I think you are leading the way and I applaud your efforts. A high school friend of mine recently posted on Facebook the classic quote about the glass being half full or half empty, and perhaps the examples below represent the spectrum of our community, and perhaps explains some of the feedback you have received:
    The pessimist says that the glass is half empty.
    The optimist says that the glass is half full.
    The rationalist says that the glass is twice as tall as it needs to be.
    The existentialist says that the glass does not matter.
    The nihilist says that the glass is not there.
    The realist tells everyone to shut up and drink the water.
    The opportunist drinks the water while everyone is arguing about it, and states “I drank it, problem solved!”

    “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
    -Winston Churchill

    Jana C. Sullinger, MD
    CYTOPATHNET, http://www.cytopathnet.org
    The Populist Cytologist, http://thepopulistcytologist.com

  5. Reblogged this on The Populist Cytologist and commented:
    This is an excellent post that all in the field should read…regardless of whether you are a member of ASC or not (hmmm, that reminds me, did I forget to renew for the year?)

    I must confess, being from Kansas, I have a tendency to be an optimist…to a fault. I think Dr. Howell has the “right stuff” to lead us into the future in a field which is rapidly changing. Her enthusiasm is evident, and that will inspire people to follow, and perhaps more importantly, to ACT. Sometimes “action” is as simple as having a little faith, and seeing the glass half full, instead of half empty. In these challenging times, it seems that we don’t have much control over anything, our economy, our work environment, the changes in our profession….but what we DO have control over is how we choose to REACT to those factors. Your actions, your perceptions….those are in YOUR control. Try it…you just might start seeing that glass is more than just half full :).

  6. Pingback: Are You an Optimist? | ASC President’s Message - The Populist Cytologist

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