Optimism: Denial, Delusional, or Key to Success?

I tend to be an optimist. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have moments of “woe is me”, but most of the time, I see the silver lining instead of the storm cloud.

It is my belief that we all have a choice. We can sit around complaining about how our leaders are failing, the economy is failing, and the world is going to hell in a hand basket.

Or, we can spend our time thinking about new ways to inspire our customers, improve our business, help our neighbor, and make the world a better place. I choose the latter.

My choice generated some interesting responses last week. It started with one of my office mates. My response to his “How are you today?” on Monday was “I’m great. It is a beautiful day, I love my office, work is fun, and life is great!” His response? “Thank you, Pollyanna. Did you forget to watch the news this morning?”

No, I didn’t forget to see the news. I just refused to focus on the gloom and doom that raises ratings.

Later in the week, I received an email with words like “denial”, “delusional”, and “out of touch,” in response to an article I wrote about growing your business during tough economical times.

Downturns, recessions, and depressions come and go. What we do during them determines how quickly we move out of them and what happens when we do. I have to be optimistic because my experience has proven that it works.

When I graduated from college, the unemployment rate was 9.7%. I was a relatively new engineer (I had some summer intern experience) competing against people with 15-20 years experience who were willing to take entry level positions.

My job search ended with a position in a prominent catalog consulting firm. It wasn’t easy. I sent over a thousand resumes. While I received many rejections, most of my efforts were ignored. If I had spent my time looking at the unemployment rate and the responses (or lack of), instead of working to find a job, my life would be very different.

Less than 10 years later, catalog companies were closing at a scary rate. I took a position at a small company that was struggling to grow in an economic downturn. Three years later the company had quadrupled in size.

I would like to say that I did it by myself, but I didn’t. It was a team effort by a group of people working together to make it happen. It was my privilege to lead them.

Our first step was to be positive. We looked at what we could do instead of what we couldn’t. We did many other things, too. But, they are for another post.

The positive attitude made the difference. Without it, every thing else we did wouldn’t have been as effective. Our environment opened the door for opportunities we might have missed.

Optimism will do the same for your company. Even if your corporate attitude is currently dismal, you can turn it around. Start by eliminating “can’t” from your conversations.

Telling people not to say “can’t” won’t work. They will find creative ways to say it differently. Instead, require them to find two positive alternatives every time they say something can’t be done. You may even have to up it to five for the hardliners. I promise that it will help your business because being optimistic is the key to success.

Our current economic situation is different from previous downturns. We have a global, multichannel market filled with opportunity instead of a localized one. Start today finding new ways to grow your company.

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