Can Entrepreneurs Learn To Be Optimistic?

July 20, 2014

2:00 pm

If there is one essential quality that most entrepreneurs share, it is most likely an almost irrational sense of optimism and belief in their own abilities. Some of the best-known brands were created by people who had little else going for them other than a dream. Faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles and countless setbacks, they persevered and turned their dreams into success.

Does this sound like you? Do you have the confidence in your abilities to view failure as a learning experience and not a reason to give up? When bad things happen, do you figure out how to get past them and move on, or do you immediately shift into “why me?” mode and sulk about it the rest of the day, month, year?

The belief that good things will happen to you if you just believe in yourself is not a new idea. For decades, psychiatrists and business leaders have been touting the “power of positive thinking.” Bestselling books come out every year that basically say the same thing over and over again: believe in yourself even if nobody else does.

But wild-eyed optimism leading to positive outcomes is not something mystical or mysterious – it’s just common sense. Optimistic people see the world through a different set of eyes. They don’t see mistakes and setbacks as something to dwell on. They just address them (or ignore them) and move on. You might get down in a deep funk if your first few attempts at something fall apart. To an optimist, the “failures” that bring us down are merely bumps in the road that are barely worth noticing.

Think about it this way – for any work to get done, you have to take action. Failure, for many people, stops them from taking any further action and therefore prevents them from accomplishing their goals. Optimistic entrepreneurs, on the other hand, simply keep going. They keep at it and by extension do more work, get more things done, and move their ideas forward. They are not necessarily smarter than you or more talented than you; they simply do more than you because they don’t view failure as a bad thing.

So the million- (or perhaps billion-) dollar question is whether or not optimism is a trait that can be learned. It turns out that it can be. Through reflection and reinforcement, you can change the way you view life and become more optimistic. The first step is to stop blaming everything, good or bad, on luck. You are not inherently more or less lucky than any other person on Earth. That great design that your client loved? That was because of your talent and ability, nothing else. Did traffic make you miss an important meeting and delay your product launch? That’s just random chance that had nothing to do with you and something that can easily be planned for the next time.

By learning to recognize your own abilities and developing strategies to address possible pitfalls, you can develop a greater sense of self-confidence. This self-confidence turns into greater productivity. After that, the sky’s the limit.

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George Meszaros is a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder of Success Harbor an entrepreneur interview and advice site for small business. Success Harbor is dedicated to documenting the entrepreneurial journey through interviews, original research, and unique content. George Meszaros is also a web designer and marketing company co-founder.

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