Proud to be a Pollyanna By Joe Tye

Joe TyeI recently was conducting a series of programs on values-based leadership for an organization and, as I always do, talked about our responsibility to eradicate toxic emotional negativity (as reflected in gratuitous complaining, gossiping, and the like). Afterward, someone told me that I was “a Pollyanna.”

I took that as a tremendous compliment. I suggested that this person go back and read the book, or watch the movie. Pollyanna came into a community that was filled with pain, hate, and fractured relationships; she brought healing, love, and reconciliation. And just what, exactly, is wrong with that?

The Bible asks the question why anyone would light a candle and put a basket over it to cover up the light. But we’ve all done it. We are born with this incredible curiosity, with unbridled imaginations and unlimited belief. We are going to climb mountains and fly to the moon.

And then we go to school and get called “apple- polisher” and “curve-wrecker” for wanting to learn. We go to work and get called “brown-noser” and “quota- buster” for wanting to perform at our best. Far from being a compliment, “over-achiever” becomes the put- down that excludes us from the “in-crowd” in the cafeteria.

This week, take the basket off your candle. Polish an apple, wreck a curve, bust a quota, achieve over the top. Be proud to be a Pollyanna. Let the “in-crowd” sit in the cafeteria whining about their problems and gossiping about their neighbors – you’ve got more important work to do.
Joe Tye is president of Paradox 21 Inc., which provides corporate training and culture change initiatives based on a proprietary curriculum of The Twelve Core Action Values of Personal Leadership Effectiveness. He is also the author of Never Fear, Never Quit: A Story of Courage and Perseverance. Visit

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