Optimism Leads to Delusions?

Since birth, the mantra taught to us about life is optimists do better in life as they think positive, are surrounded with positive people and generate positive energy. The example of the glass filled with some water typifies our thinking. Here are three examples of the statements people make and the general opinion formed by the public regarding the statements.

First person

Statement: The glass is half full.

Opinion: Give the guy an immediate pat on the back for being an optimist.

Second person

Statement: The glass is half empty.

Opinion: Well the guy is a pessimist and has negative thinking.

 Third person

Statement: The glass is half full and half empty.

Opinion: This person is really picky, majorly into specifics.

Most of the successful people are optimists. Optimism gives them self confidence, a belief in their capability to execute a plan and a capacity to vibe well with people.

It is difficult to imagine a pessimist succeeding with life when he/she is always viewing the picture for the shortcomings.

Optimists on the other hand succeed while viewing the positives of the situation. The problem is that more successful an optimist is the likelihood of seeing the negative side decreases. The person starts believing that he/she is succeeding because the negatives of their personality are not really negative. For example, let us say that an optimist boss has a short temper and takes it out on his/her staff. You might hear the boss saying that it is a good trait as the staff is more careful about work.

The optimist doesn’t realize that he/she is succeeding despite the negatives. Hence, they do not focus on working on removing the negatives as they don’t believe they have them. This results in a number of blind spots. They look at it sometimes, when a major disaster occurs. Normally, because of their belief in themselves, they manage to hold the other party responsible for their own shortcomings.

You might be able to observe this, when you see an optimist friend who has married a number of times. The ex-spouse was always the problem. Their belief in institution of marriage doesn’t reduce with time.  Neither do they think that they might be making wrong partner choices or having some romantic notions or impractical ideas of marriage. The option that they themselves may not be ideal spouse material is not going to strike them.

Optimism can lead to delusions which can be fatal for a successful life. You might still be thinking, is it possible. Watch the video “Problem of Coaching Successful People” of Marshall Goldsmith. He is the author of the book- “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” and is an executive coach. In this short video he has described the four problems of getting successful people to change their behavior.

Mantra for the day is: Obtain feedback, understand your blind spots and work on removing them. Use your optimism to become better rather than blind.

Have a nice week.

5 comments on “Optimism Leads to Delusions?

  1. Pingback: Optimism Leads to Delusions? (via Sonia Jaspal’s RiskBoard) « Pilant's Business Ethics Blog

  2. Good blog. There is a saying at Georgia Tech. It goes something like “The optimist sees the glass half full, the pessimist sees the glass half empty. The engineer sees the glass as being twice as big as it needs to be.”

    To have true insight into any situation, be it mechanical, human, business, etc etc; one must be able to see both the positive and the negative. The positive motivates us to keep going. The negative forces us to realize that our project is not perfect and has room for improvement.

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