If you pretend to be good, the world takes you very seriously.
If you pretend to be bad, it doesn’t.
Such is the astounding stupidity of optimism.
– Oscar Wilde
The word Optimism comes from the Latin word, optimum, which means “best.” When you’re an optimist, you expect or “hope” for the best outcome in anything and everything. I certainly applaud anyone who carries a positive mental attitude. And I even cheer those who can find the good in any situation. But don’t let people spoof you into believing that optimism, alone, is all you need to start “living the dream.”
Just being an optimist does not cause things to turn out the way you want them to.
Just being an optimist, instead, might doom you to ultimate failure and readily lead you from hope to despair in the blink of an eye.
But wait. I can hear you saying, “Scott, you tell us that we can have anything we want with the right mental attitude. How dare you now say that optimism isn’t good for you?”
Well . . . don’t misunderstand me.
I’m not saying that optimism isn’t good for you. And it’s certainly better than surrendering to defeat or resigning to an unwanted outcome. But I want you to participate in your own success. Act. Move. Take part. Move on. Move in. Enter the party. Hell, be the party. So, I’m simply saying optimism ALONE isn’t good for you. There’s a radical difference between a positive outlook combined with solid action and that fantasy life we call wishful thinking. The former will help you consistently and effectively manifest your dreams into reality. The latter leads to disappointing, at best, and delusion, at worst.
That’s why I always say, “Stop Wishing. Start Having.”
So, am I in denial about optimism? Let’s get something out of the way right now . . . I’m not an optimist in the classic sense of the word. Then, again, I’m not a pessimist either. I’m certainly not an idealist. (And some of you are now even arguing that I’m not a realist either.)
What I am is a magician. I do magical things. I think magical thoughts. I use magical words. I act in magical ways. My aim is to charm and enchant. To conjure a desired outcome by putting forward an idea and then stirring myself and others to action and a desired ending. This all means that I decide what I want to achieve FIRST and THEN take the necessary steps – whatever those might be – to make those outcomes happen. And all of this is fueled by an attitude of confidence; a belief in myself and my abilities or a faith in those I’m working with and their competence.
In other words, I’m not just expectant, I’m certain. I’m not just positive, I’m proactive. And I urge you to think, know, say, and do that, as well.
Why am I drawing this distinction for you? Well, all too often I run into people who have bought into the notion that purely being an optimist is enough to make their dreams a reality. Have you ever talked with someone with that mindset? I mean really gotten to know them? They can be condescending, arrogant, and domineering. They can even sound like someone who’s come under the control of someone else. They are indifferent to what’s going on around them and even heedless to the real actions they can take that might make their path through life truly memorable, fulfilling and, yes, magical.
Now don’t get me wrong. I want you to be successful beyond your wildest imaginings. And I’m optimistic that you can achieve that goal. I’m discouraged, however, when I encounter people who treat their dreams like a cheerfully irresponsible trip to a casino or the local lottery ticket dispensary. People, you’ve been sold an rose-colored bill of goods.
Imagine how your life will be different when you replace lone optimism with confidence. When you replace wishing with faith in yourself. And that all comes about by having trust in what you already know to be true. You see, when you have confidence in yourself and your abilities and your dreams and your future, you can then respond to the sh*t that the pessimists predicted and that we all know will eventually happen. While the bare optimist ignores the omens and the pessimist gets satisfaction from saying, “I told you so,” the confident and cheerful magician just keeps moving forward knowing that they can handle whatever comes their way.
We all know what optimism looks and feels like. The challenge is that it is a delusion for most and an illusion for many. Maybe it’s time we started taking our lessons from those who continually get it right; those who are action-based and action-minded. Sometimes they’re optimists. Sometimes they’re pessimists. They use whichever mindset works best at the time. And all of the time they are successes because they see things as they are, measure them against what could be, and take massive action to come up with new paths and new strategies to get them what they want.
The time has come to stop being lead on a merry goose chase armed only with your optimism. Mark Twain once said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover.” You can’t explore, dream, and discover on optimism alone. You have to dig, have some ambition, and actually get out in the world and “do.”
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