4 Steps Toward Optimism

Low-energy organizations stumble over pessimistic leaders. Making a difference feels like swimming with rocks in your pockets.

Pessimism is a lifeless struggle toward oblivion.

if you really think it won't work do sometihng else

Necessary negatives:

“Shoe drop” leadership is necessary. Even in good times successful leaders are preparing for the other shoe to drop. But pessimism is only half the equation.

Fire yourself if you aren’t optimistic about the future.

Leadership optimism:

If you really think it won’t work, do something else.

“Optimism is seeing the possibility of a brighter and better future while taking actions to create it.

The optimist doesn’t wish and say I believe tomorrow will be better. I believe tomorrow will be better. I believe tomorrow will be better.

The optimist says I know I will make tomorrow better.” Jon Gordon

“I think I can,” only works if you add, “Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work we go.”

A richer view of leadership optimism:


  • Optimistic negative feedback. Clearly identify simple behaviors that make negative results better. Negative feedback is ultimately about the future.
  • Optimistic problem solving. What’s blocking success? What will you do about it today? Optimism is the successful leader’s attitude when anticipating obstacles.
  • Optimistic project management. We have the talent and resources to get this job done, if we bring our best. What’s next?

Believe you can make it work or don’t work at making it happen.

4 steps toward optimism:

  1. Believe. “Become an optimist by simply understanding that all things are possible to those who believe.” Jon Gordon
  2. Anticipate obstacles. “Cultivate your realistic optimism by combining a positive attitude with an honest assessment of the challenges that await you.” Hedi Grant Halverson
  3. Take action. Plan, act, learn, adapt, and try again.
  4. See the good. Ask,“What’s working,” at the beginning of meetings.

What are the dangers of pessimistic leadership?

How might pessimistic leaders step toward optimism?


Related material: Peter Senge on Breaking the Cycle of Fatalism.

Jon Gordon’s latest book: You Win in the Locker Room First: The 7 C’s to Build a Winning Team in Business, Sports, and Life.

Heidi Grant Halverson’s latest book: No One Understand You and What to Do About It.