The paradox of pessimism

BUSINESS MATTERS (BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE) - Francis J. Kong - The Philippine Star

In my line of work, I have met different kinds of people. There are the optimists, the pessimists, and the realists. Now, each person carries a combination, but one would dominate and emerge. It is generally believed that optimists are people who believe that the adverse events they experience are temporary and do not affect other aspects of life. On the other hand, pessimists tend to exaggerate the effects of an adverse event and see it as permanent and general. Realists are pragmatic people who evaluate the conditions and rely on reason rather than emotions to navigate the situation.

So what happens when the three of them get together? The optimist will say that the glass is half full; the pessimist claims that the glass is half empty and the realist will argue that the glass is too big and carries too much unnecessary space. And then comes toxic positive people. These are the ones who insist that everything will turn out to be good and bright and rosy, denying to accept the reality in front of them.

I have never seen highly charged emotions and a heightened sense of pessimism happening, even in the workplace, as I am seeing now. This is not good for life, career, or even business. And this is why I thought it best to bring in my internationally renowned speaker and author friend Krish Dhanam’s article and observation. Krish entitled his article: “The Paradox of Pessimism.”

Motivational guru Zig Ziglar once stated that the 1828 Noah Webster Dictionary identified the optimist in favorable terms but said nothing about the pessimist. He added that the word ‘pessimist’ was not in our vocabulary and is a modern ‘invention’ that he believed we should ‘dis-invent.’ Fast forward to today. The paradox of pessimism is a plague devouring hope and devastating culture.

In evaluating the progress of any environment that deals with people, the following areas need to be scrutinized to uncover where the pockets of pessimism are that slow growth and flatten momentum.

1. The opulence of obstacles:

Most managers dread the hidden obstacles of perception. The first hurdle faced is always from the same group that has decided beforehand on the possible adverse outcomes. These blocks are a luxurious caveat to progress, and ignoring the alarm puts the idea’s originator in the unwanted territory of being an oppressor.

2. The monopoly on misery:

Like clockwork, every new process is debilitating, and every orchestrated change is to profit the owners and subjugate the workers. Corporate leaders grapple with this construct of misery, and the only solution is usually appeasement. The question that demands an answer is “why” do certain parts of every organization claim a monopoly on misery?

3. The safety of secularization:

When morality is attached to faith and faith linked to an individual’s expression, collective harmony is a victim of secularization. As a result, when individuals jettison their morality and accept boundaryless thought as a substitute, the output is never excellence but tolerance.

Organizations that rewrite productivity memorandums with popularity manifestos are no longer victors in entrepreneurship but victims of appeasement. The ability to answer lies in the availability of questions:

Why do you think this will not work?

What do you think we should do to increase sales?

Can you offer a solution that addresses the problem you have?

Are there any parts of this company that you believe do things well?

Do you think reward and recognition should be by merit?

What do you think our vision and mission should be?

Can you bring us examples of cultures where your specific recommendations yielded excellence?

Why do you choose to work here?

And as usual, Krish ends his feature with what he calls: “Transformative Tip:” it is the famous quote from the legendary Zig Ziglar: “Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.”

Let me end with a final story: A pessimist and an optimist are at a bar having a drink. The pessimist says, “things couldn’t be going any worse for me right now.” The optimist says, “yeah, they could.”

Oh my, let us be hopeful, explore possibilities, and do our best to make things happen for the best.



(Francis Kong runs his highly acclaimed Level Up Leadership 2.0 Master Class Online this May 24-26. For inquiries and reservations, contact April at +63928-559-1798 or and for more information, visit www.levelupleadership.ph)


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