Lately, in my struggles with something I’m not particularly skilled with — that will hopefully materialize into a new project, as well as addition for our members at Adrian’s Hub — I bounced a lot from being confident to total lack of direction, motivation and confidence that I’ll pull through with this project. From positive to negative thinking. From being an optimist to being a pessimist. From seeing all the obstacles ahead to finding a new shining clear path or way to look at things.
If I’ll be successful in my endeavor will see in the future. Right now I’m confident.
But this experience I’ve had prompted me to write a blog post on the subject of positive and negative thinking.
Personally, I am slightly more inclined, by nature, toward the negative thinking side, to be a pessimist or view the half-empty glass first. But that varies with situation and I suppose it does for everyone.
Is it better to be thinking positively or negatively?
Nowadays there is an avalanche of articles, books, talks, shows and other materials where positive thinking is highly recommended to everyone who wants to be successful. It makes us less stressed, more confident and, of course, surrounded by a positive energy which is contagious. This is absolutely great, and I love it! Except…
What good had positive thinking done in 2008 and maybe a few years before?
And for this attitude check, we should consider boards of directors, CEOs, CFOs, shareholders, regulators, administrations etc. That’s a lot of people with too much positive thinking at the time. Does positive thinking help when you are in a bubble? Reality shows it doesn’t.
And, of course there are many situations where putting worst case scenario first — or at least not the best case scenario first — helps. Here are some: disaster response services, firefighters, army, police; also bridges, tunnels, dams, nuclear plants, airlines etc.
Maybe the strong positive thinking advocacy we are subjected to right now comes as a reaction to the increasingly annoying focus on negative news from the media. From this standpoint I couldn’t agree more, we need more positivity in our lives and less contact with those negative events which influence us and which we have no control over.
For business leaders, I also think it’s probably best if they are optimists, as it’s been said, but only if they have at least one pessimist in their team AND they really listen to their opinion.
In a company, the CFO is usually a pessimist. And rarely a popular guy, especially because he’s the one who shatters the enthusiasm of the optimists. Same in government: you cannot have an optimist as a Finance Minister; at most a moderate pessimist.
Pessimism will rarely be regarded positively, especially during apparent great times, exactly because it’s associated with more costs, bad news and negative emotions.
But I wouldn’t rush to declare positive thinking winner of a hypothetical duel with negative thinking. They are both useful, just in different circumstances. We need to think positively to take bolder decisions, but we need a strong doze of pessimism to stop us from going deeper in a potentially disastrous situation.
How are you like? More of a pessimist or more of an optimist?