An optimistic outlook is required if you’re going to run or manage a business.
Without a little optimism, no one would ever start a business because they would assume it would fail. Optimism can encourage you to push through when everything else is telling you to give up. It can give you the strength to do things better because it allows you to believe that things can be better.
But optimism unchecked can quickly transform into naivety or arrogance. That’s why you need to balance that optimism with a touch of realism.
Do Realism and Optimism Contradict Each Other?
It’s very pessimistic to think that these two concepts are mutually exclusive. On the contrary, by seeing the importance of each and learning to combine them, you can be ready for any situation that comes your way.
The Benefits of Positivity
The business world can quickly become stress filled with surprises, uncertain outcomes, and uncontrollable variables always surrounding you. Constantly worrying over problems can cause you to make poor decisions or worse, become paralyzed with fear.
Studies show that positive people are consistently less stressed, allowing them to stay focused and look towards their future goals.
There’s a degree of forward momentum that the optimist has. This can motivate when things look grim. It can inspire your team and produce better work. And of course, it can make your own work much better.
But it can’t change cold, hard facts.
The Importance of Realism
Numbers don’t lie. If you’re losing money or there aren’t enough hours in a day to finish a project, optimism isn’t going to change that. There come points in the business world at which you need to make choices and decisions based off of cold, hard facts. That’s the nature of the beast.
But even then, optimism can serve its role in leaving you comfortable with your decision.
Finding the Balance
There are essentially two kinds of optimism: The idealistic and the realistic. The idealistic optimist believes that things will always work-out and be fine regardless. They find themselves and their coworkers far less in control and responsible for the situations.
Studies have shown that optimists tend to fare better in business, entrepreneurial, and even academic environments. They also live longer. But these same studies favor the realistic optimist who takes control of the responsibilities they have.
Though a realistic optimist might be a little more prone to anxiety than the idealist, they’re also equipped to handle the stress because they believe in their ability to control the things around them.
Can I Choose to be Optimistic
Renowned psychologist Martin Seligman says, “One of the most significant findings in psychology in the past twenty years is that individuals can choose the way they think”.
As a business leader, you can choose how you’re going to view the situations that come your way.
Seligman coined a method called “Learned Optimism”. He considers it a talent or skill, and just like any other talent and skill, it can be developed and strengthened. By choosing to silence negative self-talk as it comes your way, you can push forward and achieve more.
The positive person believes bad events are temporary, they learn to compartmentalize failures as expectations, and they internalize positive events.
These practices combined with realistic business leadership can take you very far in your work.