LEAD with HOPE: O is for Optimism

Brandi KellyBlog, Connect Better, Manage Better, Reflect Better, Self Care Better


  • People with a fixed mindset do not believe qualities can be changed while those with a growth mindset believe qualities can be developed and strengthened through hard work.
  • Having a growth mindset leads to hope and optimism which helps overcome obstacles.
  • A story is shared about a student who was a troubled teen but turned her life around with hope and optimism.

O Is for Optimism: Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset

Do you believe qualities like intelligence and talent are fixed or changeable traits? There are two types of mindsets: fixed and growth. People with a fixed mindset believe that these qualities cannot be changed. Individuals who have a growth mindset believe these qualities can be developed and strengthened through perseverance and hard work. A growth mindset creates a lens through which you see the world around you. It creates an environment where hope and optimism can bloom!

People with an optimistic outlook on life are overall happier. Many studies have shown the effectiveness of optimism on happiness, mental health, and overall well-being. In this article, I’m going to share a story about a student who I worked with many years ago. She went from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset

In my career, I have found that optimism has helped me overcome many obstacles. As I’ve stated before, I started my career as a school social worker. I have worked with students over the years who have dealt with unbelievable obstacles in life. Some students lose their way, and they lose hope and optimism that their future will be any better than their past. They are operating from a fixed mindset mentality. They cannot see a way to overcome obstacles in life.

A growth mindset creates a lens through which you see the world around you. It creates an environment where hope and optimism can bloom! Click To Tweet

O Is for Optimism: MEG’S STORY

I specifically recall one student. When I first met this student, I will call her Meg, she was in junior high school. She was using alcohol, drugs, and engaging in many bad habits. I don’t think she felt like she had anyone in her corner. She felt hopeless.

If you’ve spent much time in education, I’m sure you can also think of a student you have worked with who felt this same way.

My job, at the time, was to provide counseling for her. My goal was to help her become more engaged and successful at school. Needless to say, she had no interest in counseling. We sat in silence for the first few sessions. Once she realized I wasn’t going away, she started to talk to me. She told me about her home life. Her mom was a drug addict, and she lived with her grandmother. She was very rebellious and angry.

Counseling had never worked for Meg in the past. Meg ended up going to a few different residential homes during the time that I worked with her. We eventually lost touch over the years. I would often think of Meg and wonder what happened to her. Is she safe? Did she go to college or end up in jail? Is she clean or still using drugs and alcohol?

Several years ago, Meg showed up in my office. I didn’t recognize her at first. She was an adult, not the child that I remembered. It was wonderful to see Meg again. She shared with me that she was getting her life in order. She told me that she had a daughter. Meg had a beautiful baby girl. Her daughter gave her hope and optimism for a positive future. Now, Meg is living out of state with her husband, daughter, and two sons. She started her own business and is an inspiration to me! I am so proud of Meg!! I am beyond happy to hear that she is safe, loved, and living a life filled with HOPE!

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O Is for Optimism: In Meg’s own words……

I found hope and optimism in God. I was 14, in jail again, 

with nothing but a brick room, 2-inch mat, and a blanket. The things 

that kept going through my mind were the things I learned in 

Sunday school; oddly enough. It was then that I started realizing

the seeds people had been trying to plant. I finally understood

the grace of so many people who tried to help me. I started living

grateful, trusting God, and understanding his grace. The more I 

engaged in optimistic thinking, the more my life improved. 


O is for Optimism: A BRIGHT FUTURE

Meg had optimism for her future! Her story is powerful and offers hope to others. I appreciate her courage in sharing her story. ❤️  Despite her bad habits early in life, Meg has hope and optimism for her future. I believe that Meg demonstrated grit! She is a strong woman who has purpose, passion, and persistence. (I will talk more about the 3 P’s in HOPE in my next article). I am so proud of Meg. Her journey and many of our students’ journeys are not always easy. Be the kind of leader that will make a difference in the lives of others today! #KidsDeserveIt 

Lead with HOPE! 

About Brandi Kelly

Mrs. Brandi Kelly is currently a Middle School Principal in the Sangamon Valley School District. Sangamon Valley Middle School is a small middle school in Illiopolis, IL west of Decatur, IL. Brandi began her career as a school social worker in the Effingham School District. She has served as a building administrator in three districts to date: Ramsey School District, Mt. Zion School District, and Sangamon Valley School District. Brandi has been in the field of education for 20 years and has served as a building administrator for 9 years. Her goal is to build teacher and student capacity by providing tools and strategies that empower and inspire others toward greatness!

Brandi is a wife and mother of two children. She is passionate about learning, growing, and inspiring others to do the same. She is an inspirational educator and leader and works diligently to empower others each and every day.