Optimist, Pessimist, or Realist? The Way You Think Daily Decides Your Fate in Business

by Menzie Pittman • in
  • Small Business Matters
• Created: November 8, 2017

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We have a choice to make every day. Are you an optimist, pessimist, or realist about the changes that affect your businesses?

And what effects can you have on an outcome or a change by being aware of how you normally react and process?

Revitalization. That was the word that preceded the growth boom currently happening in Nashville. In 1985, it was a completely different city. Back then, many felt Nashville had already seen its true glory days. Now, however, some thirty years later, it is one of the country’s fastest growing regions, and it continues to grow rapidly – on average, one hundred people per day are moving into that region.

Whether that’s a good or bad thing depends on your personal outlook. Living just outside the Washington, D.C. area, along with having many friends and family in Nashville, terms like revitalization and sequestration are of particular interest to me, and should be to anyone in business.

The Optimist: I have always been an optimist, and I believe the reason is that I simply like feeling the best I can feel. There are more benefits from optimism than one can describe. It stirs the pot of contemplation, which in turn invites curiosity. When you are an optimist, your energy is higher, and that enables you to have more creative thinking. You will never have a good idea when you are in lower vibrations; that simply works against nature. I am certainly not suggesting that you have your head in the clouds, although I don’t always think that’s a bad idea either. I am stating that an optimistic thinker is more creative, more relaxed, and certainly more intuitive.

The Pessimist: This personality type spends a great deal of mental energy on worry. The pessimist holds the belief that the outcome of any and all problems will only worsen. At every opportunity this person spends valuable emotion defending that the worst-case scenario is not only possible, but also inevitable. Pessimism is fear-based thinking and stagnant.

The Realist: This pragmatic type of person is generally born out of his or her experiences. A realist is someone who has had both successes and setbacks and is sober in the decision-making process. Unfortunately for the realist, the price of sobriety is paid in creative currency. The realist makes a great center pole for the optimist to dance around. The realist is stable, but lacks excitement and takes very few risks. For this reason, the realist is probably not the best candidate for the entrepreneurial arena.

One often overlooked truth: A pessimist will choose to see the glass half empty, and a realist will call it neither half empty nor half full, but the optimist always sees the potential in the glass.

Have you ever noticed that pessimist forms his beliefs based on the past? He or she elects to discount current potential based on results of prior happenings. I would say this personality lacks imagination. The realist bases decisions on the current moment. In the realist’s eyes, it is what it is, and although he or she observes the past and considers it in decision-making, he or she lacks the vision to see what could happen if conditions were improved or different. This person also lacks some imagination, and could benefit from some much-needed courage. The optimist is bored without some creative risk and the reason is simple: without the potential of creative risk, there is nothing about which to be optimistic. There is no chance for improvement. The optimist needs potential to breathe – optimism is his air.

Blame is a by-product of pessimism. No default setting is used more quickly than blame for a pessimist. Accountability is not the pessimist’s go-to reaction because it’s inconvenient to take responsibility. Blame is a well-worn road.

A favorite tool of the realist is higher authority, or corporate automation. It’s been around a long time, but now that corporations have gotten bigger and bigger, it’s back in style. “That’s just the way it is.” I believe Bruce Hornsby wrote a song about it. Whether it’s schools, insurance companies, or the DMV, all institutions are defaulting more often to an automated approach.

Ultimately, the optimist bases everything on hope and vision. This personality is forward-looking. Where others see blocks and restrictions, the optimist sees opportunity. Think about Steve Jobs or Walt Disney. I think it is fair to say they were definitely optimists.

In Closing…

Before you decide anything, the way you think, the way you consider and the way you process makes all the difference in your personal world, and certainly, your business world. So, I’m betting on optimism. “That’s Just the Way It Is.”

Menzie Pittman is the owner and director of education at Contemporary Music Center in Virginia (CMC). Following a performance and teaching career spanning more than 32 years, he founded CMC in 1989 and continues to perform, teach, and oversee daily operations. He has 50 years of musical experience as a drummer and drum instructor. Menzie is a frequent speaker at NAMM’s Idea Center, and a freelance writer for MMR’s “Small Business Matters” column.

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