Optimism, Denial and Love

Hello my name is Thomas and I’m an optimist. You see, I’ve thought that being an optimist, particularly in business, was one of the greatest sins a leader could commit. I had this opinion confirmed by many colleagues along the way. So, I have been a closet optimist for over 35 years.

Today, I’m coming out of the closet. It’s time to speak the truth about my optimism and let the cards fall where they may.Today’s writing is only focused on the implications of optimism in a business content. More about the impact of optimism in the rest of my life, soon. I can see the challenges to being an optimist. The most obvious is that the view of the future (and the present for that matter) is often obscured by a feeling of hopefulness. I feel that anything is possible. That’s got good points, but it also brings with it challenges. (Note: I’ve noticed that optimism is a common quality among entrepreneurs)

Optimists can miss seeing what’s really going on, right before their eyes, because it doesn’t fit their hopeful perspective. They can hope that the contract will be signed any day now. They can believe that the “perfect storm” will happen and the business idea will be a home run long before events confirm this outcome. Optimists think everything is easy, and overlook the steps along the way that are required for lasting success. The cost of this underestimation of “what’s so” is not meeting expectations of customers, co-workers and other owners, which has a big impact on trust. In extreme cases businesses can run out of resources (think money) before the payoff can happen, which means everyone loses.

It’s important to also talk about the many positive aspects of optimism. The most obvious is that you don’t believe what others say about something being impossible. There are many times, when I have pushed along business ideas, products or programs that everyone (I mean everyone) was saying was impossible. When these work out, the positive consequences can be enormous.

What’s behind my optimism? Part of it is that I like being heroic. I love doing those things that look impossible. It is an emotional high. Others want to play on a team that’s inspired. Optimists are good at inspiring others, for without high levels of energy their dreams would never happen. Being in this highly charged environment is exciting.

I also feel that behind my optimism and the underlying hopefulness is that I don’t want to let anyone down. I know, I know, everyone is responsible for what they feel. Still, there are moments, when an old belief kicks in and says, “You want others to respect you, which means you never disappoint them.” This old programming has a strong partner with optimism.

The first step to being a reformed optimist is acceptance and love. I accept my personality and all that has come from that. I appreciate what I’ve gained from my optimistic experiences. I know that the motivations that have fueled optimism are unnecessary. It’s time to let them go.

The road ahead as a reformed optimist brings the best of my optimistic orientation, which is that I believe that everything is possible, using the gift of intuition to see where things truly are right now. As I started my day, I was feeling bit of dread about writing this. Now, I’m excited to see what this brings.

Author: Thomas White

Over the past thirty-five years, Thomas White has created and led private and public organizations that initiated breakthroughs in areas as diverse as computer software, publishing, printing, market research, leadership development and organizational change. The common ingredients in his success are simple. He looked beyond the limitations that others believed and found real solutions to needs that business leaders have. He attracted the best talent to translate these innovative solutions into practical products and services that were of high value to customers. He created cultures where people love what they do, work at their best and produce extraordinary results. In addition to his role as a business leader, Thomas has been a pioneer and inventor of technologies in the computer-networking field. He is a patent holder for innovations in business process and workflow technology. As part of his passion for educating others about the interface of human and computer systems, he was the co-author of “New Tools for New Times, The Workflow Paradigm”. He has also written articles for numerous publications. In 2001, he turned his attention from leading companies to supporting leadership teams in creating organizations of excellence. After many years of being a part of the machine of change, Thomas recognized that business is the most powerful force in the world. It has a major impact on public policy and governments everywhere. It is a key influence on how we use our resources and sets an example of the values that shape communities from local to global. He formed the consulting firm of Profoundly Simple to be a guide for exemplary leaders - leaders who wisely uses the power they are entrusted with to serve their constituencies first and themselves second; leaders who know that it is good business to treat people with respect, honor the environment and act with impeccable integrity – leaders who inspire greatness in those around them and by doing so create great organizations that are notable examples of success. Feeling the itch to get back into the game again, Thomas joined with two long time friends, to start the C-Suite Network. This network of business leaders offers an online network, events, services, and insights to its 500,000 member community. In addition, the C-Suite Network produces and distributes television and radio content to an audience of over 5M per month

1 thought on “Optimism, Denial and Love”

  1. Boy, this one spoke to yours truly…as a fellow optimist, I can see with “rose colored glasses’ and truly miss the “whats so” of the here and now. And the motivations you pointed out are mine, too; I don’t want to disappoint anyone and I want people to like and love me. I was in two marriages for too long because “we can fix this!” I was in a business venture too long because “we can turn this around”…and ended losing an extra $20,000. The list goes on. I am committed to also be a reformed optimist!

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