Being Optimistic – Friend or Foe?

I’ve recently heard two discussions on the above – one from the sporting field and one for philosophy.

It turns out that in sporting achievement the most re-occurring disappointment is not poor performance but unrealistic expectations. It traces from athletes being overly ambitious about their goals, not being realistic about their current physical state, any injuries and their training plan before the competition. Does being overly optimistic trace to the desire of the ego, not really understanding yourself, the desire by sponsors to back winners, the all or nothing attitude (if you’re not going to win by bother?) or the desire for immediate gratification? Any and all of the above I guess.

What do you make of all those motivational slogans on posters or on social media? “If you can dream it, you can do it” by the brilliant Walt Disney is one. Another is “Luck is a dividend of sweat. The more you sweat, the luckier you get” by Ray Kroc who built McDonalds to what it is today. When do these slogans go beyond motivating and inspiring and become presumptive and assumptive of success?

Some philosophers talk of the need for realism or even doomsday thinking like “you could be dead tomorrow.” The thought is that this more realistic, or some could say negative thinking, can manage expectations in a healthier way, while infusing humility and gratitude. It could also help people cope better with the amount of effort success can take, and help deal with adversity that comes up through the process.

My take: be optimistic about the outcome assuming you put in your best effort while being grateful for your abilities and what comes from them. Optimism and achievement is a journey, going from strength to strength, learning about yourself and being resilient during set-backs.

Where could you set optimistic goals reflective of your best ability (no holding yourself back) and your current situation?

Anne Taylor is an experienced business coach based in London, providing services such as executive coaching, personal coaching and life coaching. For more information call 02031 516 830.