• Hilary Bryan

Learning from optimists

I've come to terms with a side of my personality - a lack of optimism - and am trying to counter it. That's maybe why I focus on people who are optimistic and try to learn from them. This month, I've come across two: Helmut Modlik, CE of the Ngāti Toa Rangatira, who I met at a business event, and Edvard Beneš, a former Czechoslovak leader pre, during and post WW2, who I'm reading about. And both have three similar optimistic traits:

1. They see their actions in the context of their people's history. 2. Then they have a strong future vision for their people. 3. Lastly, they do everything they can to make that vision real, working with whoever can help them and they can partner with. Helmut Modlik is all too aware of the land confiscations his people suffered, but can articulate an optimistic future three generations hence for his iwi. Check out the iwi's services and aspirations to get a feel of what they've achieved and what they hope to achieve for themselves and the whole Porirua community. He works with the Porirua Council, local businesses, education institutions and makes things happen. Now to Beneš. He was President of Czechoslovakia, 1935-38 and again 1945-48. And he led the Czechoslovak government-in-exile, 1939-45. His country, to which he was devoted, had only been created as a result of the post-WW1 carve-up of Europe. Then about 20 years later the Nazis took it over and the population was subjected to SS Nazi atrocities. Yet he was optimistic and known to be by the Allies. He was a wily politician who wrangled political support from London and Moscow during the war to ensure his country wasn't carved up again afterwards. He never lost sight of his vision to keep his country together. Pretty good for someone who'd been humiliated by Hitler and let down by the Allies in 1938, when the Nazis first invaded.

Grassy path to light, through a tunnel of dark trees.
Look for the light. Photo by Iva Rajović on Unsplash

So, I have a three-part approach to work on: context, vision, and action. Wish me luck; I'll try to be optimistic about the results. After all, no-one's confiscated any of my land or imposed a reign of terror in my suburb.