Optimism (noun): A disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome.
Denial (noun): A psychological defense mechanism in which confrontation with a personal problem or with reality is avoided by denying the existence of the problem or reality.
Surely there are many times when the two are very different, here is an example when they are not.
In business as in life, especially as an entrepreneur, there are times when this really needs to be given a hard look to determine if what you are claiming to be optimism is really just denial. Maybe you came up with a great idea, developed it, tested it and take it to market but sales don’t come in like you anticipated. You throw more money at the marketing efforts, add features to make the product better, hire people to promote the product, redesign your collateral to make it more appealing and start hitting trade shows to promote the product. Hundreds of thousands of dollars later you are still losing money and the forecast isn’t predicting sunshine. You remain optimistic because you have employees who’s morale must be upheld. You remain optimistic because you have investors who’s confidence needs to be maintained. You remain optimistic because you put your house and nest-egg on the line and your wife and children will be worried if they sense failure or doubt (worried is an understatement). You remain optimistic because you know it is a good idea and it was just too early to market, it will take off soon.
That’s where a good slap upside the head might help.
You are no longer optimistic, you are truly in a serious state of denial. It may have started as optimism but in the end, the dark side has won and you need to cut your losses. Maybe it was a good idea, maybe you were early to market, it happens. Good football teams usually punt on fourth down, they can’t always “go for it”.
Has this ever happened to you?
Of course not!
Ok, maybe it has. Being a college drop out, I chalk it up to my version of student loans. I learned the hard way, many years ago.
If you are or you’re getting ready to become an entrepreneur, inventor, business owner of any sort, prepare yourself for this possible outcome. While it isn’t always and doesn’t have to be, for many with the eternally optimistic entrepreneurial spirit, it’s easy to head down this path.