How optimism unlocks potential and shapes outcomes. Like many entrepreneurs, I’m often asked the question of how I got here and what has driven my success to date. Make no mistake, the entrepreneurial journey and building a thriving business isn’t easy and I’m by no means an expert. I’m still learning on the job and discovering new things almost every day.
Despite running my business for the last 9 years, I still feel like a ‘newbie’ most days. I am contending with a forever changing environment that never stands still, continually having to review what we’re doing and explore ways to diversify and offer more value to our clients. I experience the typical growing pains that many small businesses are faced with; needing to develop a scalable solution that maintains service quality, a strong company culture and that enables growth.
I have to act decisively, take risks and keep my foot on the pedal at all times. Being an entrepreneur can be fun and exciting, but it can also be overwhelming and challenging. So what’s my secret? – Optimism. The past few years have required resilience, self-discipline, sheer determination and a desire to succeed; and none of this would have been possible without an optimistic outlook.
Optimism isn’t the denial of reality; it’s the belief that the future can be positive. It’s being able to turn negative chapters in your life into positive ones, because there is an openness to learn from mistakes or misfortunes and change direction. It provides a framework for good things to happen as it focuses on opportunities rather than limitations. It’s not what you think, but how you think about things that matters – this can either propel you or hold you back.
Here are just some of the ways in which my optimism has unlocked my potential and shaped my outcomes.
Remove the Fear of Failure
Optimism is a genuine belief that whatever happens to you makes you better. When you begin to see failure as an opportunity to grow and improve, you become less fearful of it and are willing to venture into new things. I have failed many times; whether it’s choices I’ve made about who to hire or new ideas I’ve implemented that haven’t reaped the expected benefits; but I’ve learnt from each and every one of them and made better choices the next time. Failure is a good thing.
Through reducing the fear of failure, you’re more likely to take risks. Most successful people have had to take risks at some point in their careers to be where they are now. Both innovation and opportunity are tied to risk – there is often a level of risk accepted as a cost when perusing new opportunities. Being optimistic doesn’t mean you walk into new situations blindly and expect great results. It is still necessary to evaluate all risks and associated potential consequences to enable informed decision making; but if it is deemed likely that the benefits will outweigh the costs, then an optimistic outlook will help you jump in whole-heartedly. As the saying goes: “You will never know unless you try …”.
Clarity of Vision
A clear vision and shared goals are key to implementing any change. Thinking positively helps us to envision the art of the possible, be courageous and innovate. Understanding ‘what good looks like’ is a key enabler to effective goal setting; as it is difficult to know what direction to take if you don’t know where you want to be. Optimism supports ‘Blue Sky Thinking’ as it enables us to see beyond limitations and ‘think outside the box’. Correspondingly, a clear vision fuels more optimism as it affects our attitudes positively.
How optimism unlocks potential and shapes outcomes
Too much optimism can be dangerous, particularly if you constantly overestimate the likelihood of positive events happening and underestimate risks which can lead to an inadequate assessment of potential hazards; but finding the right balance with an optimism-bias is hugely beneficial. I think optimism attracts success, and success breeds more optimism – it’s a two-way relationship that can be dialled up or down depending on the risk profile. We should all cultivate a more optimistic viewpoint about future prospects whilst anticipating risk to unlock our full potential.