I’m an optimist. I have strong faith in the future. I think why not? much more often than I think we could never… And I’ve made a reputation for myself around that fact. I’ve told senior-ranking nay-sayers to get their negativity out of my meeting. I’ve threatened to kick people out of the brainstorm if they tell the group no too many times. I’m forward thinking, and forward leaning, and moving forward all at the same time.
That’s my definition of Optimism: Faith in myself and the future. Knowing there is a path forward, even when I can’t see it, yet.
It’s a little more sophisticated than the glass half-full/half-empty theme. But the point is the same. Optimism is an attitude. It is a perspective. It is a mental model for how you interpret the facts.
Pessimism is a perspective, too. And yet, somehow we’ve started to equate attitude with intelligence. We cast optimists as dim, and naive. Unrealistic. Uninformed. And we laud Pessimists as bright, knowledgable, experienced, and correct.
When did that happen?
When did we decide skepticism = intelligence? When did we decide our attitude about the information signals our understanding of the material? And why are we so negative all the time?
The overriding theme of human history is progress. The inspiring heroes we herald moved the ball forward in the face of incredible opposition. Accomplished things others never thought possible. Proved the nay-sayers wrong.
And yet, so many of us would rather be the nay-sayer than the hero. Rather be the opposition than inspiration.
That’s a problem. Not only for those of us still brave enough to share an idea, but for everyone.
We all want progress. We all want change. We all want things to improve in our lives, in our culture, in our world. And - at the very same time - with our words, with our attitude, with our nay-saying nature, we are making life harder for our rising heroes. We are squashing the efforts of those willing to try. We are pushing against the progress we say we want.
We are our own opposition.
And if we’re not careful, our attitude, our perspective, our pessimism will turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If that’s not a case for Optimism, I don’t know what is…
Yes, there are problems. Yes, there will be natural opposition to new ideas. Yes, it will be difficult. Optimism doesn’t take any of that away.
Optimism simply says: I see how hard it will be. And I believe there is a path forward, anyway. Let’s find it.
Call me naive. Call me deluded, even, if you want. That doesn’t bother me.
I’m an Optimist.
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