Interview by Christa Cantieni Cunin, Executive Coach at SAMIDA coaching & consulting
Luc Simonet - It was in 2005. I had been a finance lawyer for many years but it came to a point where I did not feel enthusiastic about what I was doing anymore. I had had enough! I decided to take a sabbatical break. It was when my daughter said on a rainy day: "Gosh! It's raining!” that I decided to print on umbrellas: "What a beautiful rainy day!” This was sort of the birth of the "League of the Optimists".
Luc Simonet - We understand "optimism" not as an opposite to "pessimism" but as an
An optimist is enthusiastic. The word "enthusiasm" comes from Greek and means
. Being an optimist derives from a conscious decision and a discipline.
An optimist wants to do something against resignation
. When you resign yourself to something, you end up becoming a cynic.
.PWI – What is the mission of the "League of the Optimists"?
Luc Simonet - We believe that we are free. As a free person I am the master of my thoughts. Thus, I am responsible for my thoughts, my thinking, my happiness and as such for my life. And, I am also responsible for others and for the world as a whole.
So, our Association is based on these principles
and contributes to the feeling of responsibility of each and every one but also to the feeling of responsibility of groups, companies and the society as a whole.
The mission of the "League of the Optimists" is to bring together people, create networks and organize events around all sorts of different themes and issues. We want to contribute in educating, growing awareness in people, giving hope and inspiring people to change their thinking and behaviour. We want to initiate a cultural revolution by promoting trust in abundance.
PWI – What kind of events have you organized?
Luc Simonet -We have organized speeches, workshops and conferences on different subjects.
We also have a choir of optimistic singers, rehearsing every two weeks. Something we have been concerned about lately is the subject of malnutrition and low quality of food. We have organized sessions to grow awareness of the un-healthiness of the food we eat and we are trying to promote urban vegetable gardens and grow the awareness of the importance of educating children about how to cultivate vegetables.
Another subject we are very alarmed about is the global financial system and its disastrous impact on the impoverishment of societies and the public systems. We organize debates and discussion and want to influence the thinking of the participants, knowing that the new thinking will result in concrete actions.
Another key theme in our events calendar is personal development. We have numerous workshops on various issues.
PWI – What kind of Leadership is important, what qualities do Leaders need today?
Luc Simonet -It is most important that leaders learn to listen to the intelligence of their hearts.
Leaders need to be our role models
for this intelligence. I strongly believe in the power of living the example.
We also need to develop a stronger mindset of contribution
and service towards others and the world as a whole. It is crucial that companies become the best for
the world instead of the best of
the world. One most important question is: to whom does the profit of companies go to? Today we have an insane concentration of richness in the hands of a very few. We believe that it is crucial to develop concepts and strategies to answer these questions in a more ethical
way. It's also a question about avoiding a (certainly violent) revolution that might answer this question..
PWI – As you did personally, many other professionals also encounter at one point of their career a "professional mid-life crisis". Even though they have had a successful career so far, at one point they are looking for more meaning in their professional life. What advice would you give to somebody who is in this situation?
Luc Simonet - When you are not enthusiastic about your work anymore, it's a sign to change something in your life. There is the story of the three stonemasons: asked what he was doing the first replied, that he was cutting stones, the second one replied that he was helping to build a cathedral and the third one answered that he was contributing to a monument of glory for God. Which one do you think was more satisfied at work and doing the best job?
So my advice is: If you feel that you are lacking enthusiasm: Change! Jump! Experience the free fall! When you are in free fall you have this incredible sensation of weightlessness and freedom. It is only when you put yourself in danger that you feel alive. At the same time you ask yourself: "What am I still scared of?” It is security that frightens us. Security makes us scared of losing what we own. So get out of your secure jobs, jump into insecurity and start living freely!
Money is nothing but a driving force to build good and great things. For many of us, however, money has become a means to cover up our anxiety about the finiteness of our life. Unconsciously these persons believe that unlimited amounts of money can lead to infinite life...
PWI – The "League of the Optimists" has over 4500 members in Belgium. What is the key of your success?
Luc Simonet - I never thought in terms of success. There is no key to success. I even believe that if you are looking for a key to success you will miss it.
I was just doing what I felt I had to do and success came gradually without searching for it. I experienced a lot of synchronicity
and I have always paid a lot of attention to these moments. To state some examples, we needed to print a big amount of leaflets and brochures and we were short of money. Suddenly, I had a call from somebody who said he had read about the "League" and he thought we did a wonderful job and he wanted to contribute. He said that he was a paper salesman and we could have paper at a third of the price. Another time, I wanted to invite a writer for a speech but I did not have her phone number. As it happened, a couple of days later I talked to somebody who mentioned by the way that he was a relative of this writer and he handed me over the required phone number. So, I believe that these coincidences, which are such magic moments, are the proof that what we do is a good thing to do, and that is all I care about..
An optimistic last word for the current times of economic crisis...?
Luc Simonet - Find joy and satisfaction in your human relations and not in your possessions. Find fulfilment in being
and not in having
. Impoverishment will be an enrichment! It will force us to go back to our values.
Luc, thank you very much for this interview !
|Luc Simonet is a lawyer and founder and president of the "Ligue des Optimistes/Optimistenbond". The "League of the Optimists" Belgium is bilingual French/Dutch and has several sister groups in other European countries: Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, Norway, Switzerland etc..
|You can find more information and the calendar of events on:
www.liguedesoptimistes.be or www.optimistenbond.be