Skip to main content

The Oversight Of Pessimism

Scroll through your newsfeed and 9 out of 10 stories will tell you the world is ending. Negativity has a monopoly on headlines. Pessimism sells. It captures your interest and your clicks.

We're wired to lookout for danger. We've made it this far because our ancestors were careful. Cautiously sidestepping pitfalls to see another day. 

Pessimism sounds smart. It signals thoughtfulness and awareness of risks. Optimism sounds naive.   

Optimism is difficult. Requiring patience and long-term thinking. Tragedy happens overnight, progress takes time. Decades, not days. 

We're wealthier, healthier and have more freedom than ever before. Yes, there are moments that'll challenge this but that's losing the forrest in the trees.  

Optimism isn't believing everything is great for everyone all of the time. It's the belief that most things are getting better for most of us, most of the time. 

The average person today is better off than kings of the past. Air conditioning, antibiotics, air travel - luxuries unimagined. 

Pessimism is narrow-minded. The stock market is down so capitalism is failing. An injustice occurred so we must tear it all down. A broad brush devoid of context. 

Pessimism is emotional. Optimism is data-driven. Pessimism is lazy. Optimism is thoughtful. Pessimism is conformity. Optimism is bravery. 



Popular posts from this blog

The Art of Giving Feedback

Constructive feedback is an awkward affair. You don't want hurt feelings, but recognize the importance of honesty. You've tried the classic "hoping things will get better on its own" and unfortunately it hasn't played out. When giving feedback, here are a few things that I try to keep it mind. Start with empathy. Step into their shoes and understand their story. If you don't know, ask. Be genuinely curious. Feedback is a dynamic affair. Shared communication with a shared goal towards progress. Take the emotion out of it. Focus on the situation, not the person. Focusing on the person adds unnecessary weight to an already emotionally-bloated event.  Be specific. Give clear examples. Vague feedback equals dismissed feedback.  Doing above won't de-awkward things fully, but it will dampen it and increase the chance of better outcomes. 

Bias For Clarity

Bias for action. Gets things done. Go-getter. Traits companies big and small look for. And for good reason, you're being hired to do things! However, action is a secondary step that often overshadows the primary step, direction.   Clear direction is the foundation that enables our actions to takeoff. Without it, we're stuck in the mud.  Striving for clarity is an underrated skill. Having the courage to ask ( seemingly ) obvious questions, and to check in, making sure we're all on the same page. "O bvious " questions are a low risk, high reward way to add value. At worst, you'll add confidence to our actions. At best, you discover a misalignment that saves us from a dead-end.  The more people, the more clear we need to be. The bigger the initiative, the bigger the risk of reaching the finish line, only to realize expectations were off.  Success is always uncertain. But we can be certain about what we want and what everyone's job is. Things that can be clea

Negative Feedback, Positive Lessons

In the battle against plastic bags, a five-cent tax was shown to be much more successful at deterring usage than a five-cent credit for bringing your own bags. Carrots satisfy but sticks sting, and they sting hard. So we default to the less painful choice of avoiding loss. Loss aversion impacts the way we process information. A 2019 study  invited participants to learn through a series of multiple choice questions. Each question only had two options to choose from. Whether guessing correctly or not, they would still learn the right answer.  Despite the identical learning opportunity, participants were much more successful at recalling the answers they guessed correctly than those they got wrong.  "You're right!" feels good. We savour the moment, analyzing every detail.  "You're wrong!" stings. We want to quickly forget, dismiss, and move on.  When we succumb to loss aversion, we miss opportunities to learn. Failure is part of the process. We'll experie