How to Rise Above Pessimism and Lead Optimistically

If you’re a pessimist, the only thing worse than dying young is living a long miserable life.

Pessimistic leaders focus on faults and weaknesses.

Success with people requires optimism.

You choose:

Think of optimism as a skill, not a disposition.

Choose optimism over pessimism. Optimists honor progress, affirm strength, and celebrate good. Pessimists notice shortcomings, complain about things they can’t change, and anticipate bad.

7 advantages of optimism:

  1. Better health.
  2. Longer life.
  3. Richer relationships.
  4. Greater achievement.
  5. Less stress.
  6. Emotional health.
  7. Grit.

When seeing bad is good:

Optimism is usually the best approach, but pessimism isn’t always bad.

Pessimism is useful in high risk situations. You don’t want your brain surgeon saying, “Let’s try it and see what happens.”

You want airplane pilots assuming the worst, not the best.

The upside of pessimism:

  1. Lower expectations. (Less disappointment.)
  2. Preparing for the worst, as long as you don’t catastrophize everything.
  3. Attention to detail.

The downside of pessimism:

Successful leaders have the gift of strengthfinding, not faultfinding.

Faultfinding leaders…

  1. Destroy morale.
  2. Demotivate teams.
  3. Create caution.
  4. Motivate blaming.

Your team is better without you if you’re a faultfinding pessimist.

A lunchtime challenge:

I challenge you to only notice good until lunch. No faultfinding, complaining, or finger-pointing allowed. None!


  1. If you’re a diehard pessimist, think of how much worse things could be and be thankful they aren’t that bad.
  2. Don’t hide in your office until after lunch! (Cowardice)
  3. Silence isn’t optimism. Sometimes silence is a good thing. If you’re a negative leader, your silence will help your team feel better. But for this challenge, you must practice optimistic speech.
  4. Ask an optimist for suggestions if you can’t think of anything good to say.
  5. Expect people to be shocked, but don’t let that deter you.

What concerns you about optimistic leadership?

How might leaders develop the skill of optimism?


“The learner always begins by finding fault, but the scholar sees the positive merit in everything.” Hegel

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Jesus

To find fault is easy; to do better may be difficult. Plutarch

Don’t find fault, find a remedy, anybody can complain. Henry Ford


Your Habit of Pointing Out Other People’s Faults Is Ruining Your Life (Medium)