Blind optimism

With a lot of focus on mental health issues, let's not forget that extreme positivity has its downsides too.

Twenty years ago there was a guy (who used to work in advertising if memory serves us right) who was incredibly optimistic.

YES, YES, YES was his thing.

Everyone who had a job at that time (especially middle management) was sent to one of his seminars; leaving feeling like they could pick a fight with Dricus du Plessis...and win.

He was astoundingly charismatic, lots of 'red' energy and sold out auditoriums to all kinds of organisations hopeful that some of his infectious enthusiasm for success would rub off on their staff.

Blind optimism, especially at the beginning of the year, is endearing, but is sadly not enough to take you anywhere useful. An abundance of 'good vibes' for the year ahead might help you feel nice and fuzzy for a short while, but it's no recipe for actually unlocking a desired future.

This is where proper strategy work really shows its worth. Strategy acknowledges that there are critical challenges between you and where you'd rather be. By simply recognising those barriers and designing a coherent set of action steps to progress past them, you're fronting up to reality like an adult and amplifying your agency to overcome them.

A while back we worked with one particular client that was always overly-optimistic about his business' prospects. His P&L forecasts for the year ahead would have make the WeWork guy blush, but sadly none of what he pitched was realistic.

His goals sounded fantastic, but the more we worked together the more evident it became that he was literally blinded by is own optimism. Even in the face of defeat (which happened many times) he refused to budge from his belief that he 'was on to something big if given just enough time.'

Nobody is for a second suggesting that a rosy vision of the future isn't a reasonable place to start when thinking about what you aspire to, but that excitement for what might be possible needs to be balanced by an honest account of the challenges that lie between where you are, and where you would like to get to.

A tempered sense of optimism must be reinforced with a healthy dose of realism, else you head into the 'YES YES YES territory' and all the positive energy for the year drains away into pointless fantasy play.