For those of you just discovering this series, Road to Twelve and a Half is a countdown to the November 16th release of my sixth business book, Twelve and a Half: Leveraging the Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success. I hope these blogs can serve as extra resources to build off of the material in the book and help more people find happiness in life and work.
So far, we’ve talked about gratitude, self-awareness and accountability. Today, we’re talking about optimism.
I’m so grateful to have the audience that I do, and having this kind of platform also gives me a sense of responsibility to help center these emotional ingredients in social conversation. Optimism is one trait I’m very excited about, so excited that I even based an entire sneaker launch on it!
What I knew then and still know now is that optimism is massively important, and yet people unfortunately confuse it with delusion. I hope this blog post and the anecdotes in Twelve and a Half can help to change that.
What is Optimism?
Hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something.
To me, optimism is one of the most misunderstood traits. It’s commonly confused with delusion…but in my opinion, having a perspective of optimism might be one of the biggest and most important ways to build a life of happiness and joy. It’s why I have major plans for my guy Optimistic Otter over the next 40 years!
A lot of people talk about energy, and I’ve come to realize that everything in life is either positive or negative energy. Optimism is the positive energy that makes things happen. It makes you feel good, it makes the people around you feel good, and ultimately, it’s what makes even the “bad” stuff bearable — because when you’re optimistic, you understand that shit can and will get better. Even your “failures” can be fuel.
I think the biggest obstacle to success is a lack of optimism. This quick video from 2016 really puts it into perspective:
Why Some People Struggle with Optimism
I’m empathetic to people who are pessimistic because I know that for them, pessimism is almost a form of protection; it’s a defense mechanism. They think it keeps them safe from disappointment or getting their hopes up, but I actually think it’s way less productive than operating from a place of optimism.
When you’re pessimistic, overly negative or always looking for trouble, trouble is exactly what you’ll get. When you’re optimistic, you’re playing offense instead of defense. 💡
Optimism and Practicality
Many times, people confuse being optimistic with being delusional or naive. They’re so afraid of the disappointment that comes on the other side of losing or being “wrong,” that they dismiss optimism as something fluffy or silly. The truth is, optimism is extremely practical.
How do you expect to accomplish any big goal if you’re already looking for all the reasons why it won’t work? Isn’t it much more productive to believe there’s a chance you can do it or that it will work out? Even if it doesn’t work out, doesn’t it make more sense to focus on the next steps you can take in the right direction? Either way you look at it, being optimistic helps you focus on the opportunities, instead of dwelling on the losses.
To me, optimism is the only worthwhile response, especially when fueled by gratitude and perspective.
“Optimism is being thrilled about your next at-bat, while acknowledging that you’re not guaranteed to hit a home run.” – Twelve and a Half, Leveraging the Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success
When you’re grateful for the opportunity to even try at something in the first place, it makes the process more enjoyable. When you enjoy what you’re doing, it’s more likely that you’ll stick with it long enough to see results. This is why if you’ve got a big goal, being optimistic is one of the most practical things you can do to give yourself the best chance of reaching it.
If you’re dwelling on mistakes or counting yourself out, you’ll be behind before you even start.
How to Build Optimism
Like anything else, building your optimism will take time. If this is one of your halves, the best thing you can do is rewire your mindset, starting with taking a good look at your environment. This means being aware of who and what you’re spending your time with, and how they’re influencing the way you think.
1. Surround yourself with optimistic/practical people
While no one else is accountable for your mindset but you, it’s much harder to be optimistic if you’re surrounded by negative people. The people you spend your time with often reflect the person you become. If your current circle is constantly complaining or pointing fingers instead of thumbs aka lacking accountability, you need to get a new circle.
I know what you’re thinking…you can’t just cut people off — especially close friends and family. I’m not telling you to drop people and never speak to them again, but the fact is that if someone is dragging you down mentally, it’s best to limit your interactions with them.
Check out this clip from the Twelve and a Half audiobook sessions. I think it really drives the point home:
Now, it’s important to distinguish between “positive people” and “yes men.” You don’t want people who always tell you what you want to hear. This is why that balance of optimism and practicality is key! 🔑 By staying practical, you avoid sliding into delusion.
2. Fill your ears with positivity
When it comes to building your optimism and watching your surroundings, the “what” is just as important as the “who.” Think about the stuff you’re consuming, from the shows you watch to the podcasts you listen to. Are they helping you or hurting you? If you don’t know where to start, I think filling your ears with positivity through podcasts and videos is a great way in. A lot of it is free and easily accessible via the internet — this blog is just one example!
Remember, what you listen to and who you listen to is what you become.
For Those who Think, “That’s Easy for You to Say”…
I’m aware that my ideas or concepts will be lost on some people. Whether it’s because of my position in life or my delivery and the way I speak, there are some who just can’t get past the messenger to the actual message. There are those who will think it’s “easy” for me to push positivity and optimism because I have a certain level of success. While I’m very empathetic to those who have that mentality, I also want people to realize that this isn’t about me. It’s not even (just) about success — it’s about your happiness!
I’m grateful if even one person can watch a video of mine, or read a book, blog post or newsletter and get something from it that makes them more optimistic about life. On the other hand, if hearing it from me doesn’t work, I hope you get it from another person or another source — as long as it sinks in.
That being said, I think this video proves that optimism isn’t just for the super successful. It’s for any and everyone:
Optimism is about positivity. It’s about hope and good energy…and I’m optimistic that all 13 of the emotional ingredients in Twelve and a Half will help people change their own lives in a major way.
Thanks for reading! I’d love it if you shared this article on your favorite social media platform and let me know your thoughts!