How Optimism Will Make You a More Successful Entrepreneur

By | 2016-12-01T19:13:50+00:00 July 16th, 2015|Startup Culture|

Are entrepreneurs biased? Swedish researchers think so. And I’m not talking about gender, race or religion. I’m talking about a predisposition to seeing the economy (production and consumption of goods and services) more optimistically than others.

Entrepreneurs often view the future as bright when their counterparts see gloom. That optimistic outlook of successful entrepreneurs isn’t cockeyed, it’s a more accurate reflection of their world. For entrepreneurs, their optimist outlook is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Entrepreneurs are optimistic for good reason. When you control your destiny, you’re more likely to view the proverbial glass as half full. You’re comfortable taking risks and handling the possibility of failure.

Seeing opportunities when others see challenges is an entrepreneur’s gift. Negativity diminishes your ability to think creatively and find new solutions. It’s like a vise cutting off creativity. “I feel like you need to be irrationally optimistic about barriers you can break through, or things you can get accomplished, or projects that you can deliver in a certain amount of time,” said Shafqat Islam, chief of NewsCred, in The New York Times. Of course, there is a downside. You can be too aggressive and too ambitious. You need to strike a balance.

Being positive has other benefits. Despite challenges, entrepreneurs find ways to stay optimistic when faced with adversity. The ability to bounce back is the key to your continued success. “Positive emotions help speed recovery from negative emotions,” says Barbara Fredrickson, author of Positivity and a professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in Entrepreneur Magazine. “When people are able to self-generate a positive emotion or perspective, that enables them to bounce back. It’s not just that you bounce back and then you feel good—feeling good drives the process.”

Entrepreneurs are also more resilient. Denise Brosseau agrees with Jeffrey Pfeffer, author of Power, and Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, who say that resilience is a one of the defining skills and behaviors of people who make it. Brosseau is author of Ready to be a Thought Leader? How to Increase Your Influence, Impact, and Success.

Not one of those people who sees the world through rose-colored glasses? Not to worry. You can train yourself to have a rosier outlook. Express gratitude for what is going well in your life, use positive affirmations and challenge negative thoughts, writes Matthew Della Porta, a positive psychologist and organizational consultant, in Entrepreneur Magazine. Tips for building resilience are similar, and begin with painting yourself as a survivor, not a victim, and being mentally tough.

Geri Stengel is president of Ventureneer, a marketing research company targeting small business. Geri is a regular Forbes contributor, consultant, Kauffman facilitator and the author of Forget the Glass Ceiling: Building Your Business Without One.