Thought pattern, though only one of the many factors, is a great determinant of human behaviour. What a person thinks is what he is, and this though would usually precede many of the decisions that he will make. On organizations, a wrong thought pattern could put the team on the wrong track. Simply put, a wrong thought pattern could lead to a wrong decision.
“There is always a rainbow after the rain” goes the famous quote, and it is probably the best description on how optimistic thinking works. Simply put, optimism is looking on to the bright side of things, as opposed to pessimism which tends to see the bleaker aspect. For a certain situation and a certain person, outcomes could differ depending on how his mind sees things. A market competition, for example, could push a businessman to either take the risk because of the projected benefits, or stay in his comfort zone, afraid of the costs if he fails.
However, excess of anything is always bad. As in the case of optimism, there are cases when too much of it would cause more problems rather than solutions. This is the reason why the concept of “Realistic Optimism” was introduced.
Realistic optimism is looking on to the bright side of life, but still retaining that realistic grasp on the present and still knows what to expect on things – to hope for the best, and at the same time, prepare for the worst. Simply put, this is optimism which also acknowledges the bad side and works with actions. Realistic optimists are those people who believe that they can achieve things provided that they work hard for it – to plan, persevere, and choose the most effective strategy.
Many wrongly entertain the notion that optimism should NOT look on the negatives, to the point of “deleting” negative information and repressing the problems that come their way. This way of thinking is unhealthy, and has been known to cause stress and some physical illnesses (depression, anxiety, headaches and even heart attacks).
How does one stay on the track of realistic optimism? The best rule is to BE HONEST. There is no substitute for reality. A problem cannot be answered by running away from it. Do not take life with a grain of salt, but instead, open your mind and acknowledge it. Applying this principle in organizations, there will come a time when a team would have to face a challenge that only an open mind would be able to solve.