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The 4 Powers of Optimism

Allow me to tell you a little story about my first job as a pharmacy employee.

I loved my first job. I loved the hard work, the responsibility and the feeling of accomplishment.

I started this job at 16 as a stock clerk at my local pharmacy and within three months, received my first promotion.

After a few more months, I was granted my second promotion into the store’s management. My positive attitude and my motivation, I feel, got me my promotions.

I had one friend who had been in the same management position I had been in for many years now. Unlike me, he hated his job and wasn’t moving up at all. While I took any negative experiences I had encountered as an opportunity to learn and grow, my friend used these negative experiences as an excuse for why he was going nowhere.

Whenever I spoke with him about how much I enjoyed my job, he would call me a “Virgin to Retail” — I was enjoying my successes thus far because the retail environment hadn’t screwed me yet.

In effect, he was saying: “You are doing well because nothing bad has happened to you yet”, or in other words, as soon as something bad happens to you, your success will STOP. You will hate what you are doing, you will cease to be motivated and you will no longer enjoy any growth.

This is a horrible approach to success and the worst part is that this type of negativity is widespread and it prevents many people from getting ahead.

However, no one is immune to responding to negativity in kind, especially me. In fact, this story does not have a happy ending. Near the last few months I spent working there, we got a new manager whom I didn’t work well with. She criticized a lot and praised very, very little.

The negative energy she brought into the store spread to all of the other employees, including me. I ended up dreading every day that I came to work. It was not long before my performance suffered, I got lazy, was denied a promotion and I ultimately quit.

While I wasn’t the source of negativity, there were plenty of ways I could have confronted the problem and succeeded had I approached this situation with the same positive attitude that I did before.

Success or failure isn’t given to you, you build it yourself. In this case, I created my own success when I had a positive outlook on my job and both my friend and I caused our own failures when we had a negative outlook on our jobs. Don’t let loosing your largest client, failed marketing campaigns or start up difficulties convince you that you are doomed to failure.

Instead, approach these situations with the same energy and love that you had when you created your business. You should look at how your business can grow from these negative experiences rather than worry about how these situations can lead to temporary setbacks. If you view these unfavorable situations as a growth opportunity, you have a much greater chance of creating your own success.

With that said, let’s examine the 4 reasons why being optimistic is vital for your business.

1. Optimism can strengthen your business

Facing and handling difficult situations are defining moments for your business and shape how it handles them in the future. Dealing with these situations with negativity and pessimism will become habitual, rub off on your employees and become part of your business’ climate and culture.

This will make it even more difficult to succeed since your coworkers will be less likely to take risks, react poorly to the mistakes of peers and find themselves stressing, dreading and loathing their work.

Instead, face these difficult situations with a positive attitude and reassure your employees that you are confident in their abilities.

This will improve the climate and culture of your business and make everyone more comfortable with risk taking and making mistakes. Both you and your employees will enjoy coming to work since the atmosphere is positive and reinforcing and everyone will find their jobs more fulfilling.

Your business will be better poised to handle difficult situations in the future and you and your employees will enjoy the challenge of solving problems. Everyone will rally behind your company and will feel confident in your business’ ability to plow through any hardships.

2. Optimism makes you a better decision maker

If you approach every situation positively, you will learn to make more effective decisions. With pessimism comes doubt and worry. However, with optimism comes confidence and constructive thinking.

You can’t think clearly if you approach every situation thinking that you are unlikely to succeed. On the other hand, if you approach the situation optimistically, you will have more faith in your ideas and the ideas of your subordinates. You will feel that it is more worthwhile to test these ideas instead of throwing away non-“perfect” ones.

Having doubt can quickly spread to the macro level and cause excessive worry. This can block your concentration and cloud your judgment.

Conversely, approaching situations with a positive attitude will allow you to better analyze the actual situation and make more rational decisions with a clear head. You can respond better to ideas and you can react more quickly to negative situations without worry or doubt delaying a judgment call.

Approaching situations with a positive attitude will allow you to react more rationally, evaluate situations more effectively and arrive at a solution more quickly.

3. Optimism is attractive

An optimistic and reinforcing atmosphere for your business will naturally attract people to it. In my story, my positive energy kept me motivated but also made me more attractive to my bosses as a candidate for promotion.

Conversely, the negative energy of my friend drained his motivation and our bosses disliked him more because of it.

You can apply this story to your business as well. An encouraging atmosphere will help make your employees look forward to coming to work. Your customers will enjoy being in the presence of motivated people and will come back.

There is a natural attraction to positive energy and you should take advantage of it by ensuring that the climate in your business is as energizing as possible.

4. Optimism will bring success more quickly

Optimism will also make successes seem to occur more often. Instead of focusing on how long it’s been since your last breakthrough, focusing on the headway you have already made towards your next achievement will make it appear more quickly. Each progression you make towards a desired goal is, in fact, a triumph.

By viewing these more frequent paces as small victories, positive outcomes will appear to arrive sooner rather than later, allowing you to stay motivated instead of getting discouraged.

View these miniature strides as climbing a latter rather than stepping into a sinkhole. You aren’t falling further away from success, you are advancing towards it. It is important that you stay motivated and not let yourself get discouraged, as getting discouraged leads to self doubt and even quitting.

. . .

With all of the powers of optimism, there is one dangerous power of pessimism:

Negativity begets more negativity

Doubting yourself will only make you less comfortable with your decision making ability and quitting will most certainly bring you failure. How many times do you find yourself skeptical of the success of a project, promotion, product or even your whole business after something unexpected happens?

Do you really think questioning yourself or your business is going to make you more successful? Unless it has been over five years since you have started up, made little to no sales and have exhausted every marketing promotion imaginable, chances are any failure you have experienced thus far is because you haven’t found the right marketing mix for your business yet.

You aren’t going to find what works for your business if you give up, doubt yourself or approach the situation with a pessimistic attitude. If you continue to approach these situations negatively, you will continue to bring yourself failure. Obsessing about failure will only lead to a self fulfilling prophecy.

Approaching hardships with optimism will better equip your business to deal with these situations more effectively in the future. You will have a positive climate and culture, a motivated workforce and greater objectivity when making decisions.

These trials that confront your business are opportunities to make it stronger. Embrace them and learn to deal with them more and more effectively each time. It can often be extremely difficult to remain encouraged in the face of continued difficult circumstances. However, sometimes your biggest failure or disappointment could actually be your biggest breakthrough.

Can you add to this list of the powers of optimism? Of the dangers of negativity?

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