The Dark Side of Optimism
Whoda thunk that something so positive could have a dark side? That’s right. Optimism, the feel-good feeling, the basis for the entire self-help industry, the underlying principle of the smiley face can be harmful.
Now, I’m not having “a case of the Mondays,” cuz it’s Thursday. I ask only that you consider the evidence.
Would Optimism Please Take the Stand
We’ll dispense with the pleasantries, Optimism. Is it not true that you
- Conspire to make people think their next meeting is “just two floors down?”
- Encourage people to do one more thing before heading out?
- Convince people that traffic is never bad this time of day?
Guilty on all counts!
Staying Optimistic about Optimism
How then, you ask, do we get to meetings on time, stop leaving the office late and always anticipate traffic delays? The answer is to dispense with the vague notion of the perfect day and focus on the realities of the day-to-day. Yup, it’s tough love for optimism.
- Start timing how long it takes to get to meetings…with an actual watch.
- Consider the real costs of leaving late in the name of one last email.
- Bank on bad traffic; it’s a zoo out there!
From the Ashes Rises a Phoenix, or Maybe a Tucson
Once, a long time ago, in a place far, far away, the perfect day did come. Meetings were only five minutes away, one last thing only took ten seconds, and traffic was nonexistent. It was a good day. It was the day optimism was born.
That day may come again, and if it does, imagine how much free time you’ll have!