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The Heretic is a free dispatch delivering insights into what it takes to lead into & in the unknown. For entrepreneurs, corporate irritants and change makers. Raw, unfiltered and opinionated.

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Dec 14th, 2023 Share: Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn

Daring to Dream: Why Betting on Optimism Wins

In the realm of entrepreneurship and leadership, a battlefield of ideas and ambitions, a quote by Andrew Ng resonates deeply: “I’d rather side with the optimist who wants to give it a shot and might fail than the pessimist who doubts what’s possible.” This statement isn’t just a feel-good aphorism; it’s a strategic choice, a lens through which we can view potential and progress.

The Courage to Fail

Optimism in business isn’t about wearing rose-colored glasses. It’s about having the courage to fail. Yes, the courage to embrace the messiness, the uncertainty, and the sheer thrill of the unknown. Entrepreneurs are the modern-day explorers, not just navigating but also creating new territories. The optimist, in this context, is someone who is willing to chart unknown waters, recognizing that the possibility of finding new lands is worth the risk of getting lost.

The Power of ‘What If’

Optimists live in the realm of ‘what if’. What if this idea changes the world? What if we can make things better, faster, or more meaningful? This mindset is a fertile ground for innovation. Pessimists, on the other hand, are anchored in ‘what is’ - the current state of affairs, the limitations, the reasons why something won’t work. It’s the classic battle between the status quo and potential change. Entrepreneurs need to be in the business of change, and that’s inherently an optimist’s playground.v

Learning from Failures

Here’s the twist – optimists are not delusional. They are acutely aware of the possibility of failure. But they view failure as a data point, not a dead end. Each failure is a stepping stone, a lesson learned on the path to success. In the entrepreneurial journey, failure is not the opposite of success; it’s a part of it.

Building Resilience

Aligning with optimists is also about building resilience. Optimists are not deterred by setbacks. They possess a certain tenacity, a drive that keeps them going when the going gets tough. This resilience is contagious. It fosters a culture of perseverance and endurance, essential ingredients for any successful venture.

The Magnetism of Optimism

Lastly, optimism is magnetic. It attracts talent, resources, and opportunities. People want to work with and for those who inspire them, who make them believe in a brighter future. Optimists create an environment where innovation thrives, where team members are encouraged to think big and act boldly.

Ad Astra

So, when faced with the choice, I, like Andrew Ng, would always side with the optimist. Not because it’s a guarantee of success, but because it’s a guarantee of movement, growth, and learning. In the world of entrepreneurship, those are the currencies that matter most. We need to dare to dream, to imagine the possibilities, and to give it a shot, even if we might fail. Because, in the end, the greatest failure is not to try at all.

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