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The Difference Between Optimism And Wishful Thinking

        posted by , December 12, 2012

Optimism is the reason that upstarts can crush large competitors. It's the reason that business innovates and grows.

Optimism tends to have a reputation as being unrealistic. However, realism and optimism aren't incompatible. They certainly aren't opposites.

The opposite of optimism is wishful thinking. In fact, wishful thinking is the evil twin of optimism.

Where optimism creates and improves, wishful thinking wastes and destroys. Wishful thinking has spelled doom for many fine entrepreneurs and professionals.

These 5 signals can be used to differential one from the other.

1. Optimism seeks validation, wishful thinking avoids data

Optimism is always looking for validation. It doesn't give up when data is negative but it does make changes based on data.

Wishful thinking explains data away or avoids data altogether.


2. Optimism seeks advice, wishful thinking is stubborn

Optimism is curious. It wants to know what works. It listens intently.

Wishful thinking is proud. It likes to speak but doesn't listen.


3. Optimism is adaptable, wishful thinking is static

Optimism seeks a path to success but it doesn't pretend to know exactly what that path will be. In other words, optimism tries things and then goes with what works.

Wishful thinking decides what works and tries to force that idea to work, even if it doesn't.


4. Optimism seeks knowledge, wishful thinking confirms what it believes

Optimism is open minded. It believes absolute certainty is dangerous.

Wishful thinking seeks to confirm what it already believes. It selectively picks out data to prove a point.


5. Optimism breeds success, wishful thinking breeds disaster

Optimism is aggressive but adaptable. It's an optimal path to achievement.

Wishful thinking is aggressive but blinded. It's an optimal path to failure.


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