Optimism Fuels Innovation

I want you to think back to when you were a kid.

Remember your limitless aspirations? What about all the questions and curiosity in the world you held? The inspiring professions you were drawn to?

Then as you grew up, went thru school, got a full-time work, a mortgage etc etc. That sense of eternal optimism was slowly drained away. Like a death of a thousand cuts, your energy levels began to drop and you increasingly struggled to find purpose and motivation in the world.


The above scenario may seem like an exaggeration, but it more common today than we would like to believe.

Last week I read a fantastic article that highlighted the necessity for ‘delusional positivity’ in the world of entrepreneurship. Unfortunately, in Australia, we are as pessimistic as ever, according to one senior Microsoft Executive.

The tall poppy syndrome is so rife here, I sometimes have to consciously make an effort not to immediately discredit an idea that’s floated my way.

Can you believe I just had an amazing holiday away to Queenstown, and instead of emphasising how fantastic my experiences were (bungee jumping 9 sec free fall !) I harped on about how expensive it was. Seriously AL WTF!

And it’s not just me. Even some of the ‘angel’ investors I’ve encountered are so negative and risk-averse they will only invest in a company that is profitable, has traction and operates in industries they know thoroughly. Where is the optimism?

Some may counter with ‘only the paranoid survive’ (RIP Andrew Grove). I agree wholeheartedly with this statement, but being prepared for the worst =/= being a pessimist. You don’t need to have your blinkers on to be an optimist.

So all this has really got me thinking, looking at the pure statistics along, you’d be insane to go down the start-up route. Forbes quotes that 90% of start-ups will fail within 5 years. There is certainly no place for doubt or negativity if you are playing with those odds. It’s almost a pre-requisite to have a blinding optimism to bust your way through.

Since we are shaped by our environment, for innovation to thrive you can’t expect to be surrounded by pessimists. Having somebody continuously undermine your venture will eventually rub off, and you’ll begin to doubt yourself. That’s exactly why start-ups must continue to gravitate toward each other, toward other insanely positive people who can still provide constructive feedback while motivating the founder to fulfil his or her goals. Life is too short to be brought down by pessimists who, like sheep, only hop onboard when a product/service is proven and has enough social proof.

In my opinion, the best attribute about Americans is the ‘YOU CAN DO IT’ attitude. Instead of focusing on failure and how much money they could have potentially lost, they will say ‘KEEP PUSHING FORWARD’. Something us Australians can learn plenty from.

We should bring each other up, not down. Only then will innovation begin infiltrating throughout the business world.



Author: Allan Manuel

Allan specialises in helping disillusioned health workers find meaningful work. He is currently Head of Sales at Blys- Australia's most popular on-demand massage service. Get in touch with Allan here.

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