I admire people who live in a “glass is half full” world. But, that’s not me.
I’ve discovered there two indisputable truths:
- “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong” – Murphy’s Law
- “No good deed goes unpunished.” – Author in Dispute
You may think this is a very cynical view and it probably is. I’ve been referred to as a realist with pessimistic tendencies. This is probably an accurate description but please don’t confuse this with being a fatalist.
In business, I worked with some great people and organizations. Most of my roles were in small to mid-size companies led by entrepreneurs of varying abilities.
Two things about entrepreneurs. First, they seldom see the down side of any situation and second, they have an insurmountable degree of optimism. This is good if you want to build a company. You have to be able to face adversity and come back swinging. Optimism plays a big role in this endeavor. However, when you are busy being happy and challenged, sometimes you forget there are forks in the road, speed bumps, and even major avoidable crashes. I think in some cases it is willful blindness.
The challenge became convincing all these “my glass is half full” folks there was a problem coming. Afterwards, I’d hear them saw, “well I didn’t see that coming!”
Of course you didn’t. You forgot to take off your rose colored glasses or listen to the lyrics being emitted from your headphones where a version of “Detour, there’s a muddy road ahead” was playing loudly. As scary as it seems, it was my voice you should have been hearing. On the occasions where my counsel was heeded, we were usually able to make plans to avoid the pitfall or at least mitigate its damage.
I’ve seen entrepreneurs go into a deep funk because something they didn’t foresee caused a problem. While they recover and try again, they couldn’t cope well with the failure and valuable time was lost. Being a realist, one recognizes that failure is inevitable and it isn’t a great shock when it happens.
I know there is a risk of being viewed as a party pooper, wet blanket, or any other negatives you want to attach to this trait but that’s the way it goes sometimes. I’m not one of those people who wakes up every day with a smile on my face and says, “Yahoo, look out world here I come!” To those of you who can do this, I take my hat off to you.
I don’t wake up with an attitude of “Oh woe is me.” either. I wake up, let the day unfold, take what the world throws at me and adapt as appropriate. (Sometimes I’m more adaptable than others.) I’m certainly not a Joe Btfsplk of L’il Abner fame.
I know there is a fine line between being a pessimist who can’t see any good in the world and being a realist. We realists are capable of smiling, enjoying a good day, having good friends, and generally living our lives as it happens. However, please don’t ask us to always have a smile on our face or look at each challenge we face as “a new learning opportunity”. Sorry, not going to happen.
I love reading some of the positive messages on Facebook. I even try to ascribe to some of them but please don’t ask me to live by them.
So to all the optimists I say, “Keep up the good work!” and to my fellow realists I say, “Let’s help keep the optimists from stepping in the horse manure”. We all play a part in this world and goodness knows it needs balance.
As the great cartoonist and creator of Peanuts, Charles M Schulz once said, “I have a new philosophy. I’m only going to dread one day at a time.”
Yeah, that works! 🙂 (Kidding, just kidding!)