Realism or Foolhardy Optimism ?

I have always liked folks who are optimistic about the future.

You know, those sort of folks who are generally positive about things around them. Who take things in their stride. Who refuse to be cowed down by setbacks and challenges. Who focus and surge ahead despite the apparent difficulties.

They are few and far between.

Especially those guys who are genuinely optimistic.

Not those guys who are rash and optimistic in a foolhardy manner. Just for the sake of coming through as a can-do guy in front of others.

Folks who are positively and genuinely optimistic are guys who do not have to boast about themselves or their capabilities or their competencies. They know that they can do it, and they are quietly confident about it. They know that with hard work, success is around the corner.

The key thing is how to differentiate between the genuinely optimistic and the foolishly optimistic folks. It is sometimes difficult, especially when one does not have that much of an experience with a particular optimistic person.

If there is a track record of quiet success, then of course, one can believe that the optimistic guy is genuine and will in fact succeed even against all odds.

But when there is no evidence of past success, one has to base one’s determination on intuition, or gut feel. Sometimes it could be correct, but many a time, it could go wrong.

A genuinely optimistic guy is also realistic about his chance of success in a particular venture. He undertakes the venture only if he is confident of achieving success in that venture. He does not boast or claim ahead of performance.

It is very critical to put together a team of quietly optimistic folks to achieve a vision. These folks have a greater sense of buy-in before they move into any new venture, because they would have evaluated its chance of success before deciding to join.

They are serious folks who bet their career and themselves only very carefully. They do not jump unconsciously or based on hearsay.

Over the course of many years, I learnt (in a certain hard way) that there are these two distinct kinds of folks (apart from a set of folks who do not wish to bet on anything), and it is very important to determine who belongs to what kind of group.

It comes with careful observation and practice – one of the best ways to determine the genuineness is to have a long conversation which could lay serious stress on the concerned person (the optimist). Only those guys who are able to sustain the conversation and react rather dispassionately, might emerge as the genuine optimist. The false optimist would not have the content beyond a few minutes of discussion, as he would not have thought through the consequences of his false display of optimism.

Think carefully before you decide who you wish to be on your team.


Vijay Srinivasan
10th March


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