Making a case for rational optimism (in business, sales & life)


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about perspective.  As a sales professional, as a business owner, as an entrepreneur.

It’s one thing to have a plan, set goals, to know what you want to achieve.  It’s another thing entirely to have the right mindset to get there.  Your approach, your mindset, the way you handle the ups and downs of business everyday – it’s critical you have this nailed to succeed long-term.

Many people succeed or fail because of this but without giving it a second thought.  They either have the right mindset for their environment or challenge ,or they don’t.

So I’ve been thinking lately about what the right, intentional mindset would look like.

Earlier in my career, I’d been accused of being far too optimistic.  Too trusting without enough skepticism peppered in.  Perhaps true.

On the other hand, I distinctly remember one member of our management team back in the day we called “The Angel of Death” because everything he discussed was negative.  Every decision, every market condition, every perspective (with a few exceptions) was negative.

The most appropriate mindset for most business situations is likely somewhere in between.  For me, I’ve come to describe this middle ground as “rational optimism”.

I still generally prefer to have a positive mindset.  I prefer to expect the best of people.  It’s a much more pleasant way to live, and I’ve come to believe it also not only brings out the good in people but also accelerates relationship-building and pass-along interest.

But blind positivism will get you hurt.  It can keep you from seeing roadblocks ahead, from seeing or expecting obstacles that can or are likely to appear.

Rational optimism means assuming and expecting the best, but within reason.  There’s a big difference between negativity and rationalism.  I prefer to use the latter to help me anticipate, address and react to obstacles in my path to success.

There will always be plenty of barriers to success.  There will always be conditions, competitors and more that want to see me fail.  I need to be aware of them, to counter them, but not let them affect my approach and disposition to the opportunity, business and world overall.

That’s how I prefer to see it anyway.  Would love to hear your perspective, and/or what’s worked well for you.