When Assuming the Best is the Worst

Assume the best about others until history says assume the worst.

Believe history not hope.


Before you go with the hope that they’ll pull through, ask yourself, what’s changed since the last time they fell short. If there’s a history of falling short, don’t expect them to magically rise up.

“Bad” hope makes you passive.

If nothing’s changed, nothing will change.


History predicts the future.

Expect more of the same, unless there are concrete reasons to anticipate something different. What are they doing now to become the leader you hope they become? If you can’t see change now, don’t expect change later.

More of the same now results in more of the same later.

“I’m going to change next time,” is gobbledygook. Open your eyes to what they are doing now.

Everyone who offers reasons why change is better tomorrow, will do the same thing tomorrow.


Present behavior predicts the future.

Close your ears to what they’re saying. Open your eyes to what they are doing, or not doing.

5 reasons assuming the best is the worst:

  1. Nothings changed since the last failure or disappointment. Talking about being different doesn’t count.
  2. It prevents you from dealing with performance issues. You love hoping for the best. But, it causes you to delay intervention. “Bad” hope makes you wait when you should act.
  3. History says that disappointment or harm will likely happen again.
  4. It prevents you from anticipating problems and planning for contingencies.
  5. You remain hands off when you should be hands on.

Hope is not a strategy for building the future.

If you don’t see action, take action. Successful leaders worry about what will go wrong and take action to prevent it.

How has hoping for the best gone wrong in your leadership journey?

How do you give people second chances?