Denny Smith
Leadership and Development Trainer

Winston Churchill said, “I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else.” The Kingston Trios’ hit song of the 50’s, MTA, starts with the words, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” That’s nothing new – every generation and every society has faced such times.

It has not been the Denny and Debbie downers who helped us survive and even thrive on challenges, but the leaders who inspire us with optimism that give us the hope and the courage to move on. Bobby Kennedy challenged us when he said, “Some people see the world as it is and ask ‘Why?’ I see the world as it could be and ask, ‘Why not?’”

There are those who believe that our precious democracy is at a crossroad, and if that is the case, perhaps we need leaders who promote civility and optimism now more than ever. Winston Churchill once again advises us to answer the call and keep our eyes on the prize. “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

It is my honor to serve as the President of our St. Cloud Morning Optimist Club. Our mission is to promote optimism to our youth, our communities, and to ourselves. We close every meeting with our Optimist Creed and I would like to take the liberty of sharing it with you.

Promise Yourself

  • To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
  • To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to everyone you meet.
  • To make all of your friends feel that there is something in them.
  • To look at the sunny side of everything and to make your optimism come true.
  • To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.
  • To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own
  • To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
  • To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and to give every living creature you meet a smile.
  • To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
  • To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
  • I repeat this many times each day and personalize it by prefacing each element of the creed with “I promise myself to….” I find it to be an uplifting reminder that each of us can be a beacon of hope, and to help us face our challenges in a positive frame of mind. It is no surprise that the creed is easier to recite than to live up to, but repetition serves as a constant reminder of the opportunity you have each day to impact the lives of your staff and your students.

While so many are looking at the world as it is and asking “Why?” you can be one who sees the world and your school as it could be and ask, “Why Not?”

Denny Smith is a former teacher and coach, a motivational speaker, and an author committed to making our schools and communities safe and welcoming for all people. His latest book, Emotional Intelligence 101: How to Carve a Duck is available now. He is currently working on Coaches Make the Difference and Teachers Make the Difference, which will be available in early 2022. For more information visit

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