7 Ways to Avoid the Pitfalls of Optimism

There’s a dark side to Oz. The wizard is a fraud. Optimism doesn’t cure every ailment. It causes some.

An optimistic novice is like an idiot with a box of fireworks standing by a campfire.

Image of a field of sunflowers.

Real optimists don't believe hard work is easy.

7 ways to avoid the pitfalls of optimism:

#1. Focus more on near-term goals.

Ask people to explain what it takes to succeed today. Optimists irritate people who actually know what hard work is.

#2. Accept reality.

When someone shows up with their hair on fire, don’t tell them it’s not a big deal. It might not be a big deal to you, but it’s a big deal for the person who feels the heat.

#3. Stop cheerleading.

Cheering from the sidelines – when people are in the mud every day – makes you a drunken cymbal player in a symphony of one.

#4. Get dirty.

You don’t have something better to do when the wheels fall off the wagon. Don’t do people’s jobs for them. How can you make hard work easier?

#5. Have more time for details.

An optimist who ignores details is a three-legged donkey in a four-legged race. Ask, “What am I missing?”

You don’t need to know everything. But at least get an idea of day-to-day challenges.

#6. Respect difficulties.

An optimist skips the bunny trail and rides the ski lift to the top of the mountain. “It can’t be that hard.”

#7. Buckle up for the long haul.

Stop telling people this will be over soon.

There are months to go before current turbulence settles down. By the time this turbulence subsides, new storms will arise.

Have confidence you will prevail, but don’t believe it will be over soon.

Real optimists don’t believe hard things are easy. (Stockdale Paradox)

The real question is how will we succeed in the storm?

How might leaders avoid the pitfalls of optimism?