Should You Be Optimistic?

Should leaders, founders, sales professionals, humans, be optimistic?

I mean, after all, we’re locked in an endless cycle of conflicts driven by greed and ignorance spiraling towards an inevitable self-destruction.

So I say, yes, of course, you should be optimistic. And also, you should be pessimistic. In fact, the best leaders that I know are skeptical to the point of being pessimistic, but curious enough to maintain a sense of optimism.

In other words, this problem looks really complicated. I’m not sure that we’re gonna be able to solve it. Skeptical.

But I bet if we do this thing or that thing, we might figure something out that’ll get us headed in the right direction. Curious.

The blind pessimist stops right after, “I’m not sure we’re gonna be able to solve this problem.” And the blind the optimist doesn’t do the upfront work to truly understand what they’re dealing with and doesn’t really understand what they’re getting themselves into.

For me, the trick is to recognize that blind pessimism and the accompanying fear and dread and everything else is just my reptilian hindbrain telling me that I need to fight or I need to fly.

And similarly, blind optimism is my brain sometimes just avoiding the potential negative outcomes that might come from trying to do something that’s really hard.

In my completely amateur, non-professional scientific opinion, optimism and pessimism are just as much biological responses as they are attitudes or personality traits.

So should you be optimistic or pessimistic? Yes, you should be both of those things. I can biologically promise that you will. But most of all, you should be skeptical and you should be curious.

Barbecue sauce.