I’m not sure that this article relates to all jobs, but in my experience in sales and sales management , I say optimism is essential to the success of a salesperson. Ok, optimism is not the silver bullet. It can’t stand in for brains. It can’t be a substitute for hard work. It can’t be the only foundation for a plan. But here’s why when you hire you should assess optimism before diving in to a commitment.
1. Optimism is an expression of hope: people want it and like it. These people are easier and more pleasant to be with. This easiness makes them more likeable and likely to develop relationships more quickly.
2. Finding solutions to tough problems takes energy, and anxiety can flood the mind. Optimistic people waste less precious energy doubting themselves and dwelling on impossible circumstances.
3. Optimists don’t have to be right. Pessimists seem bent on convincing people of the impossibility of their situation, where every alternative is a dead-end or just stupid. They are the smart cautious ones whom deem effort in the face of challenge as wasteful.
4. Confidence, so says Dr. Albert Bandura (4th most quoted psychologists in history) is a condition for self-confidence. If you think that the worst will happen in any circumstance you will not be confident.
5. You will not likely hear “that’s unrealistic” from an optimist. Other peoples view of the optimist’s goals is a killer of their dreams, so they shut these vibes out.
Optimists naturally think that they can do things. Sometimes this confidence, as Chamorro-Premuzic would say is, “Incompetent confidence”, but no matter, they fail and re-bound! They have more stamina and hang in for the trials!
If you find an optimist, look for brains, resourcefulness, competitiveness and hard work in their past. These are the characteristics you look for anyway, but dig for evidence in their previous jobs. Don’t leave out an assessment of the conditions under which they performed. Sometimes you find gold. People who stuck it out under tough circumstances and made the best of it with a smile.
Ok… some exaggerated examples. Name me one great leader who was a pessimist. George Washington, Winston Churchill, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela? What about in business? Gates, Branson, Musk?
Optimists may fail. But they will be one heck of a lot less taxing upon their departure than a grumpy failure who is dying to tell you he “told you so.” Pessimism paralyzes, so hire the optimist that will keep things moving!