Posted by Tommy Runfola | April 12, 2017
Imagine you divided everyone in the world into two psychological groups. You put all the optimists on one side and all the pessimists on the other (let’s leave the realists aside for now).
Amongst the optimists the conversation would all be about fantastic plans for the future and how things can only get better.
Meanwhile the pessimists are having what might seem to the optimists like a depressing discussion. Far from working out how to make their dreams come true, they’re worrying about all the things that might go wrong. They’re worried that even the things they have will be taken away from them by some cruel twist of fate.
To the optimists, the pessimists seem too down on everything, always just a little too keen to pour cold water on any exciting plans.
To the pessimists, though, the optimists are out of touch with reality. Can’t they see what a nasty, cruel and accident-prone world we live in? They are deluding themselves!
Both optimism and pessimism have important roles to play in people’s lives.
Being optimistic allows people to pursue their goals in a positive way: to dream a bigger and better dream, which they can work their way towards. Optimists also seem to respond better to positive feedback, and part of being optimistic may be generating this feedback for themselves, i.e. thinking positive thoughts.
On the other hand being pessimistic may help people reduce their natural anxiety and to perform better. Also, pessimists seem to respond better to negative feedback. They like to hear what the problems were, so they can correct them. Again, part of why pessimists generate these sorts of negative thoughts is that it helps them perform better.
So it’s different strokes for different folks. Optimism and pessimism aren’t just accidents; this evidence suggests they are two different, but effective, strategies of coping with a complex and unpredictable world.
THE REAL KEY IS TO LEARN HOW TO BALANCE THESE OPPOSING FORCES WITHIN OURSELVES!
(Basically to become what’s called a “REALIST”)
So how can you use this knowledge in your BUSINESS?
Harness the Power of BOTH Traits:
Leaders, whatever their orientation, need to learn to harness the power of both traits. “In a striking turnaround,” writes Annie Murphy Paul in Psychology Today, “science now sees optimism and pessimism not as good or bad outlooks you’re born with but as mindsets to adopt as situations demand.”
When testing strategic plans, deploy defensive pessimism, imagining all the things that can go wrong in the future. But when the task requires flexibility and had work toward uncertain goals, build teams with optimists.
As a determined optimist who has grown a bit more pessimistic during my life, I do want to share one important finding from my 35 years of field research: Effective long-term planning and investment requires an optimistic approach, with contingency planning by pessimists—because things never go exactly as you want them to.
So, with that being said, MAKE IT A GREAT DAY…by watching out for the potholes out there that could really ruin your day with a flat tire!