How Being Optimistic About Your Business Sucks

Scenario: "Dude, we gotta be freakin' optimistic all-the-freakin'-time. Then we'll build a great business because of our always-positive-magnetic-booyah energy. Porsches, here we come. Yay!" Remember back in the good 'ol days when our teachers would tell us the most optimistic people in life achieve great things. Well, that's partially true.

How Optimism Rocks

Yes, badass business people need to be optimistic about their success. Besides, if you don't believe you'll kick ass for your clients and for the freakin' world, how will they believe you? Further, optimism plays a major role when you've been beaten, shattered, demoralized. Without optimism to pick your butt up from your defeats, you'll be that broken person who quits the zest for the entrepreneurial lifestyle after one defeat. Yes, the successful entrepreneurial journey is filled with a million failures, and only optimism can get you through each struggle every time. But, then again: Can too much optimism suck? Most definitely. Here's why.

How Optimism Sucks

Too much optimism detracts your attention away from understanding the "brutal facts" of your reality. When you're wearing your rose-colored glasses: yes, you're hoping for the best -- but you're not doing anything to get there. The theme goes:
  • "Hey, John's not doing his work correctly. That's okay. I'll tell him I believe that he'll do better, and he will! Yay!"
  • "Tiffany hasn't been selling for the last month. She needs another dose of my cheerleading. Yay!"
  • "Jackie's division is spending lots of money. But hey, there's a good reason for it. She'll kick ass for us. Yay!"
  • "We'll increase revenues by 300% next year. Let's spend ahead of the curve. Porsches. Yay!"
Now if you're the badass manager and you're saying those things, watch out: You're steering your company toward a disastrous downfall.
  • Likely, John's not doing his work correctly because you're not providing sufficient resources for him.
  • Or, Tiffany's not selling well because she needs supporting marketing material to influence her New York clients.
  • Or Jackie's spending money on football tickets for her entire team without any incentive for company performance.
  • Or, some up-and-comer will snatch market share from you, drastically reducing that 300% gain -- and putting you into much debt if you're spending ahead of the curve.
Optimism is good, yes; but the most kick-ass business people balance that optimism with a good dose of "let's-check-ourselves-before-we-wreck-ourselves." Otherwise known as "Being Real." Or, "Being realistic." Or as guru Jim Collins calls it: "confronting the brutal facts of your reality."

Peep this analogy: You + Soccer.

Say someone's named you the coach of a lousy soccer team in the English Premier League. Your team was one spot away last year from being demoted. You have the most talented players in the league, you have the nicest gear, the biggest home-field advantage with your boisterous crowd. Your only problem: practicing on a soggy grass field caused by moisture in the dirt and from the environment. That one problem caused a bunch of injuries last year -- preventing several stars to miss games. Now, you have two options:
  1. Be optimistic that this year will turn out much better. Keep hope alive! Keep doing what the team's been doing.
  2. Be freakin' real like the real G that your badass really is: Hire somebody to replace that grass field with the relatively inexpensive FieldTurf -- an imitation of natural grass that replaces dirt with a mixture of sand and rubber.
"Well, duh!" Yeah, yeah, if you chose the somewhat obvious ^2 as you're answer, you're correct. And a badass. But when most business entrepreneurs are confronted with similar dilemmas about their businesses, they overwhelmingly choose ^1: "Hey, we're just having bad luck. We'll kick ass this year. Keep hope alive, sons-of-b*tches!"

Be optimistic: yes. But more importantly, be the most realist G you can be.

Optimism is good; but being optimistic by first confronting the absolute truth of your current situation is extraordinarily sexy. Here's a continual theme we've noticed in the business world, and you might be familiar with it in your own company. We referring to companies that have employees go through the dreaded cycle:
  1. Employees start out kicking major ass.
  2. Then after ___ years, their "once-fabulous" work starts to freakishly suck.
Now, here's how most companies would respond: "Hey, we have to fire them because they're not as motivated anymore. Let's hire more college graduates. Yay!" The few badass managers would go: "Hey, we need to discover the reason why our work's demotivating them." So they discover the brutal fact that the work's not challenging their veteran workers enough. Those badass managers would then go: "We need to raise the freakin' bar for them to kick way more ass than the ass they're kicking now!"

"Being real" applies to everything.

That includes your marketing approach, your employee morale, your sales presentations, your management techniques, your budgeting, the financial health of your company, or whatever else. Before you make any decision, know the hard facts first to guide that decision. When you're fighting the daily struggles of an entrepreneur, be sure to be optimistic -- but remember:

Balance optimism with a good dose of "Being Real."


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Posted on October 24

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