Are you too optimistic?
It’s an interesting question, isn’t it? Unless you’re committed to the Eeyore perspective, the gloomy worldview of the donkey in A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh books, we’ve all probably asked it of ourselves at least once.
I think wondering if you’re too optimistic is based on the unspoken assumption that expecting a positive outcome, or putting a positive spin on events, is a bad thing.
As Havelock Ellis wrote, “The place where optimism most flourishes is the lunatic asylum.”
In other words, being anything other than negative is crazy.
The easy and cynical thing to write here is that world events would seem to support such a view. But I’m not sure that’s true.
All kinds of things seem to work when there’s no good reason for them to do so. Think of snowboarding stunts or the New York City transit system – how does it all keep going?
When you get down to it, doesn’t it take a certain amount of optimism just to get out of bed in the morning? I live in Wisconsin and, at this time of year, I need a good reason to brave the elements each day. Without a belief in the future, how can you talk yourself into doing anything?
That’s why optimism is an important part of career development. You have to believe that you’re right for the job in order to write a good cover letter, craft a good resume and deliver a good interview.
Please note the action verbs which closed that previous sentence; write, craft, deliver. Although you might win the lottery, or have your dream job fall in your lap, as a general rule, it takes effort on your part to make good things happen.
And optimism is what inspires you to make that effort. Trying to develop your career without a positive outlook is like trying to start a car in winter with a cold, dead battery – the sparks just aren’t going to fly.
However, an optimistic attitude without follow-up action is as useless as a battery without a car. While thoughts of “I think I can,” inspired the Little Engine That Could, the key was how those thoughts kept the little wheels moving all the way up the mountain.
You have to move the wheels. Optimism only gets in your way when you use it as a substitute for work.
by Danielle Dresden