Why You Don't Have To Be An Optimist To Succeed In Business


There's a common strain of business and entrepreneurship literature that would have you believe that if you just *think it* then you can *achieve it.*

Just *think it* and it will *come* they gush, it's all about positivity and having *the right mindset.* And of course, the right mindset always has to be one of unflinching, saccharine positivity where you're ready to leap up and high five a complete stranger at any second, because you are *invincible.*

Maybe I sound jaded, but despite the fact we all know this attitude is nonsensical, and not likely to help you become a millionaire at all, this genre continues to thrive and *mindfulness* is as big a buzzword as influencer marketing in 2016.

I've come across these books before, and whilst I admire their attempt to inspire people into entrepreneurial action, I want to make a case for pessimism not always being the wrong mindset to have. As a natural born pessimist (or maybe I'm just english!), people often assume I am dour, sullen and all about wearing funeral attire every day. As is obvious from my blog, this is not the case! I'm generally very happy, certainly very excitable, and all about colour in every way.

What adopting a pessimistic outlook CAN do, is manage your expectations and help guide you through a realistic entrepreneurial process where things go wrong, you are frequently disappointed, and solving problems is non-linear.

Too many books, blogs and business personalities would have you think that adopting the right 'attitude' for business means you will necessarily succeed. Why? Because when you don't, they can remain responsibility-free. 'It wasn't my shoddy advice that stopped you from making it big! It was you! The problem was you all along, and your mindset!'

If we are convinced that the problem lies within ourselves, within our inherent mindset, rather than what we know or how we are applying it, we can keep buying into the sorts of resources that focus more on the abstract, wishy washy side of business, rather than the nitty-gritty, subject-specific knowledge that's likely to lead to actual business progress. And the more we buy into the abstract, the more money we can funnel into the hands of people who make you FEEL like they can make you rich and successful, as opposed to those who can truly help you on your way.

There's a certain level of laziness to thinking that changing your mindset will lead to anything at all. Let's get this straight: If you don't put the hours in, don't expect to see anything back. And expert advice, correct legal information, and appropriate technical skills will get you further than *positivity* by itself ever will.

Now onto making a case for pessimism not being detrimental or fundamentally incompatible to entrepreneurial action or success, in moderation of course.

As a pessimist I find it easy to get TOO down about my chances in business, coupled with the expectations to just suck it up and get a 9-to-5 job, but in managed doses I really think that a mix of pessimism and realism can put you at a significant advantage to entrepreneurs who don't even believe in their ability to fail or make mistakes.

Recognising and accepting your own weaknesses, whether that's in terms of mindset or technical skills and knowledge is the first step towards taking the necessary action to covering knowledge gaps and hiring the appropriate help to complement your strengths.

Pessimism, seeing the glass half empty, or tending to envisage the worst case scenario rather than the best, is a good way to manage your expectations when it comes to business. It clears the fog from rose tinted glasses to allow you to see what you're good at, and not so good at, and make decisions accordingly.

Treat your pessimism and realism like a distinguishing characteristic in a world of dreamers rather than an obstacle, and the benefits will soon outweigh your niggling doubts!

So what do you think? Is pessimism dragging you down, or is a healthy level of realism allowing you to pursue you goals with more clarity than before? Let me know in the comments below!

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