Practice Optimism

Meme – Practice Optimism

When faced with hopelessness, believe and choose to take another step forward. 

Innovation is hard.   Any ambitious new idea will eventually encounter a circumstance when there is no good reason to continue. This is when reasonable people quit.  Don’t quit.  Don’t let others quit. 

Believe in the value of optimism. Then take another step.  

This is more than a pep talk.  Enterprise Innovation is almost always vulnerable to death by disappointment.   This is a real risk factor … so the practical application of optimism becomes a strategic skill.

Avoid terminal decisions based on immediate conditions.  Do not make a decision (or allow others to make a decision) just because things are troubled.  Resist the temptation to abandon hope or reshape the future when there is:

  • New Bad News – Newly received bad news is likely to be an unusually bad moment.   This creates a “local minimum” of unhappiness that distorts the world around it.    
  • Exhaustion / Hunger / Discomfort – If you feel bad, lack sleep, or have not eaten you are unprepared to make any meaningful decision.
  • Discouraged Entourage – Some of the people around you will get discouraged easily.  They will whine and moan.  They are not your barometer for how things are going.
  • Uncertain Future – Frequently the future is not so much “bad” as it is “unknown”.  Uncertainty is a necessary part of creative change.  It cannot be the reason for abandoning the journey.

Business Innovation Architects are unusually well positioned to keep complex projects alive.  BIA’s deliver functional optimism by reaffirming goals, assuring that solutions are possible and demonstrating genuine enthusiasm for the adventure.

 Choose to believe (even without proof) and then take a step forward.  Don’t make big plans.  Don’t agonize over the future.  Just do the next task at hand. 

Walk through the darkness … and later you can decide whether its time to quit. 


Value optimism.  Take another step. 

Good Reads: 

Learned Optimism – Martin Seligman

Brainstorming Questions

  • What’s the next thing that can be done?    
  • Am I tired, hungry, uncomfortable, or sick?
  • Am I reacting to bad news?  Can I just ignore it for now?
  • Am I reacting to sad and depressed people around me?
  • Can I step up and be the cheerleader?  What would a little optimism cost me?
  • Why do I have to quit now?  Can’t I just do something useful that gets through the day?

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