“Fill the Glass”

It’s the hallmark test for optimism, this question, “Is the glass half empty? Or half full?”

Supposedly, if you answer “half empty,” then you need to stop being such a grump and practice more gratitude. And if you answer “half full,” then you’re a can-do optimist and an inspiration to us all.

But a snapshot of a glass half-whatever doesn’t give you the information you need to evaluate your situation.

You also need to know whether the glass is filling or emptying.

Here’s an example. I know a baseball player, a 24-year-old NCAA pitcher. Un-drafted. he has one season of eligibility left. Right now he’s doing his final collegiate off-season training. Last week he texted his mom that his velocity was 77 mph.

Now, 77 mph is not great velocity for an adult. Yet he was excited about it. Why? Because a week ago, it was 72. A few weeks ago, it was zero.

It was zero because a couple of months ago, he was treated for thoracic outlet syndrome. Treatment is surgical. You remove both the scalene and subclavius muscles and the first rib.

He’s good with 77 right now, because it’s trending positive. He’s good with 77 because of where it fits on this spectrum:

  1. arm goes numb when I use it
  2. can’t even scratch my nose COZ I JUST HAD A RIB REMOVED
  3. can raise my arm
  4. can play light catch with my Dad at 30 feet
  5. can throw 90 feet, 72 mph
  6. can throw 115 feet, 77 mph

You get the point: his glass is filling. He has a plan, and he’s on it. He’ll be competitive by the end of March.

Glass-is-filling stories are fun. Glass-is-emptying stories, not so much. We all have our share of those.

It’s important to know which situation you’re in—filling or emptying. A snapshot is not enough information.






3 responses to ““Fill the Glass””

  1. Rich Soule Avatar

    Or, as the great Steven Wright said:

    “I see a glass twice as big as it needs to be.”


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