Be A Negative Optimist


By

Dr. Meenakshi Singhal
Senior Lecturer
Head, Department of Communications
University of Petroleum & Energy Studies
Dehradun
 


The most important quality for success in entrepreneurship and in life is the quality of optimism. Optimists have an unrealistic expectation of success. As a result, they are willing to try far more things without becoming discouraged.

In addition, because of their unrealistically positive attitude, they are willing to persist much longer than the average person. Optimism is a wonderful quality as long as you have it under control.

Taper Your Optimism

In order to be successful in business, and in any activity where money is involved, one must temper ones optimism with negativism. One must be enthusiastic about the possible upside of the investment but one must be skeptical, critical, suspicious and demanding about all the different ways as to how ones money can be lost.

Listen to Negative Viewpoints

One must seek out and listen carefully to people who are negative towards ones idea. Keep a lookout for negative thinkers, because their viewpoints can be invaluable and save you a fortune in time and money. Here is a very god example of a person who is a lawyer by profession, and has a very different approach at work. He recommends and gives advice to many people on investments. And what he does is this. When someone comes and they want to make an investment that he's unsure about, he says, all right, I want you to come to my office and I want you to sit behind my desk. And then I'm going to come in and I'm going to present this investment to you and I want you to critique this investment as if you were me.

Help Others to Evaluate Honestly

He says that when his clients begin critiquing the investments they're thinking about going into, when they begin becoming negative thinkers about the investments, he says they are astonished at how bad the investments really are.

He said he has saved his clients millions of dollars by forcing them to be negative thinkers about their own ideas, simply by switching roles and sitting in front of the desk while they sit behind the desk.

Keep Your Mind Open

But don't be overly influenced by negative thinkers. Just take their viewpoints into consideration. There's a famous story of Mary Hudson, who started off with 200 dollars in the middle of the Depression and leased a gas station that two men had gone broke running at two different occasions. And from that she built a company called Hudson Oil, which is now the biggest independent distributor of gas and oil in the United States. From a 200 dollar investment, even though everybody told her she would fail. So remember, listen to negative thinkers, but don't necessarily accept their advice.

Action Exercises:

Here are two things you can do immediately to get these ideas into action.

First, view your idea as if you were an outside consultant. Ask, "What are all of the possible risks or flaws in this cause of action?"

Second, seek out the opinions of others. Listen without responding or defending. Thank them for their input. They may save you a lot of money.
 


Dr. Meenakshi Singhal
Senior Lecturer
Head, Department of Communications
University of Petroleum & Energy Studies
Dehradun
 

Source: E-mail July 15, 2006

     

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