Samuel Shapiro, a 16-year-old sophomore student at Mater Dei Prep in Middletown, has been announced as this year’s winner of the Sunrise Optimist Club of Freehold’s Oratorical Contest.

Shapiro was hand selected by judges after blowing them away with his five-minute-long speech driving home the importance of optimism in society, in the workplace, and in interpersonal relationships.

The piece, entitled “What the World Gains From Optimism,” included salient statements about the role of optimism, including: “In an ever-changing and globalized world, solutions are needed and people must design and implement these solutions in a short period of time. Optimism keeps people focused on solving a problem instead of getting held back by road blocks.  Innovators must work without hindrance in order to keep up with emerging technologies, global crises, and trending topics.”

As winner of the Oratorical Contest’s county-wide competition, Shapiro wins $500 in scholarships, and now gets the opportunity to compete in the District level competition next, in Reading, Pennsylvania, on May 6, with the chance to win $2,500 and eligible to then compete in the regional competition in St. Louis, and then potentially the World Championship.

Shapiro will also be appearing on Friday, April 14 at 7 a.m. at Perkins in Freehold Township (3445 Highway 9) and presenting his winning entry.

To RSVP, contact the Sunrise Optimist Club of Freehold by contacting Bill Woodard at 732-446-9782 (wwood2105@aol.com) or Sylvia Allen at 732-946-2711 (Sylvia@allenconsulting.com).

For more information on the Sunrise Optimist Club of Freehold, visit www.freeholdsunriseoptimists.com.

The Sunrise Optimist Club of Freehold has been participating in the Optimist Oratorical Contest for many years and has been active in the community since 1985.  The Club participates in and supports many community youth programs and services.

What the World Gains from Optimism

By: Samuel Shapiro

 Optimism is a mindset that offers numerous benefits, not just to an individual, but to society as a whole.  This mindset helps individuals achieve their goals, by not only encouraging them, but also making them aware of the individuals and groups they impact.  This unique perspective is becoming more and more helpful, especially in finding a career. Optimism makes people ask questions like, what can I do? How can I add to this team? What contributions can I make?  Why am I passionate about this?  People who are hiring like to see that a person is dedicated and committed to the idea of the company they are joining.  Optimism allows people to see the value in every job, idea, and moment by realizing these are not just means to a desired end.  So, instead of telling your interviewers you need a job, start by saying why you want to join their team and what you have to offer.

Dr. Davis, a National Geographic explorer, tells us that constant reminders of inherent inferiority is the way utilitarian leaderships control their people.  Optimism reminds people of the hope and value they have in their life, and how we can use that to create better societies and workplaces.  Optimism gives people the knowledge to lead great ideas to success, instead of just following it, because optimists are not afraid of failure.  They know action is the only way to accomplish their goals and dreams.  Optimism also keeps fear and doubt at bay so you can accomplish your task.  This makes optimism the key for innovation, which the growing technology industry is built on.  When developers at companies like google go through the design thinking process, they make members write and share every idea they had in just a minute.  They are confident that there is a solution in that process, and their optimism allows them to hear every idea and decide where to go from there.

In an ever-changing and globalized world, solutions are needed and people must design and implement these solutions in a short period of time.  Optimism keeps people focused on solving a problem instead of getting held back by road blocks.  Innovators must work without hindrance in order to keep up with emerging technologies, global crises, and trending topics.  Technology has brought us to a place where innovation is possible almost anywhere, with any person.  So, as optimists, it is imperative to think that doing is the best kind of thinking.  Optimism allows for every idea to be explored to its fullest, because failure is seen as a way to learn instead of one’s inability to complete a task.  Optimism builds the foundation for success not just as an innovator but also as an employee or volunteer.

My generation has been criticized for being the least innovative and least active generation in a long time.  Today millennials don’t take on huge projects and innovation, not because anyone said we couldn’t do it, but because everyone has said we would never do it.  When you think about it, those statements are one and the same, and use the word never, a huge fallacy to optimists.  Millennials have never been allowed to fail, so the fear of failing is so strong the risk is too great to ever take on a big project.  We never learned the value of failing, and how to learn from it.  Optimism is needed in my generation more than ever, so we can take on the issues that the world will face in the next decade and beyond.

Dr. Davis also discusses how life is not linear but serendipitous.  He wants students to understand that they do not have to follow a set progression in life.  Optimism also allows us to see our own potential and not wait for what society thinks is the right time for success.  People must realize that innovation is possible at any time, and failure is fine especially at a young age.  You don’t have to have graduated college with a master’s degree and have a high paying job, before you can start innovating.  Channel optimism and take that chance when you are young and have the opportunities to do so.  So, when someone asked me what Optimism can do for the World? I would tell them it is the combatant of inaction and our only hope at progress.