We Have Seen the Future. And it was green with a hint of neurosis. Part 3 — Being a Realist
There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle (Albert Einstein).
The success of every bold entrepreneur rests on bold dreams and ambitions, even if they don’t seem realistic at first. We are motivated by idealistic visions and we aim to create something unique, something amazing. The truth is realism and optimism go shoulder to shoulder on the way to building up our confidence and a strong, successful business. Of course having high hopes is never enough. People also need to know that their leader (you) is in touch with reality and that you are willing to roll up your sleeves and really work.
Optimism, pessimism… realism
The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails (William Arthur Ward).
Researching the very roots of the three notions we discover the obvious. The word optimism derives from the Latin optimum, which means best, while pessimism comes from pessimus, meaning the worst. So when you think about it, the two are just the best and the worst that can happen and the person who is described as an optimism or a pessimist is he who guides himself by one of the two mind-sets.
Of course, there are pros and cons for both of them. Optimists are thought to be more resilient in the face of adversities, while pessimist are sometimes better prepared and more focused. Optimisms may be riskier, but it sends you on a longer journey than pessimism.
Although they are sometimes thought to be delusional, optimists rather view the world through a positive-tinted lens. As opposed to pessimists, they see out the opportunity instead of analyzing the steps and difficulties in achieving them. Doubt is not on the menu for optimists, neither is insecurity. However, they sometimes tend to be over excited and expect good things to happen too fast or too easy.
There is another way
A psychologist of our modern times says that optimism is the basis for creating and maintaining the necessary motivation to reach our goals. And also, that success is mostly based upon the optimist’s belief that he or she will succeed. His name is Albert Bandura and his argument hasn’t yet been proven wrong.
There is nonetheless a flaw about optimism — namely the creation of the so-called unrealistic optimists we were mentioning earlier. These are the ones who are convinced that success will come to them by only wanting it, by sending positive vibes into the universe. But, as undesirable as it might sound, it may not happen, so a tad of realism can’t hurt. Therefore, we’ve witnessed a special breed being created — the realistic optimists. This is, in our experience, a breed of very successful people, as they stay positive and focused about the future even if challenges appear. Realistic optimists strongly believe that they can — through sustained efforts and their proactive attitude — make things happen. They work towards their goals, knowing that being successful entails diligent planning, solid resources, ambition and persistence, good evaluation of circumstance and excellent execution. Being so well prepared and organized, their confidence is boosted and so their level of optimism is healthily fed.
So let’s see a few ways to nurture and develop a realistic vision, with a hint of optimism:
1. The specific factor
When setting objectives, try to make them as clear and concise as possible. If you are vague, you risk getting lost in the details. So a good starting point would be to focus on one aspect of your business at a time, instead of on the entire picture.
Take each department — for instance sales or production or customer service and set objectives for each of them rather than for the entire company. Being specific will help you organize things better and, in the end, the overall image of your business will only benefit from this approach.
2. The measurable factor
When dealing with objectives, the most realistic way of measuring their success is through numbers and figures. When you work with numbers, you are able to measure your progress better. So instead of saying you want to increase sales, say you want a 10 percent increase in sales. This is actually something you can measure and control.
Every other aspect of a business can be matched with numbers — take productivity for example, or costs or even customer satisfaction, through surveys that will show you how you are rated by your clients.
3. The achievable factor
Always go for what you can achieve. Sometimes expectations are high and hopes even higher, but when you keep a realistic point of view you will be able to recognize the achievable factor in your objectives. Remember that your objectives should always match the circumstances of your business and if they worked for someone else, they won’t necessarily work for you too. You and your company are unique!
Every now and then it might be nice and challenging to set up a goal that you know it’s a bit higher than what you’d normally go for, but otherwise you need to look carefully at how your business functions and decide on objectives you know you can reach.
4. The time factor
In realism, little is done someday. Usually timelines are neatly determined and deadlines are essential for the success of a project. Whenever you want to reach a goal, you should sit down and determine when you need it done and which are the steps towards it. After making the plan communicate the dates to everyone involved. Make them realistic as well.
Deadlines are only beneficial if they are set according to the given circumstances. Otherwise, instead of motivating people, they will create more stress and tension.
5. The most realistic factor
And finally, remember to keep yourself down to earth when you set objectives, when you hire people, when you create tasks and projects. Trying to double your income overnight won’t work much. Neither will cutting your costs in half over the weekend. This way of thinking, that you can get rich or your business will flourish in a matter of days, is only going to bring you disappointment.
An optimistic realist will stay in the realm of reality while at the same time working as hard as he or she can to make his/her dreams come true. For instance, when an objective seems too high or too far, they will break it into smaller objectives and will delegate various tasks so that it becomes achievable.
Keep it real
A while ago, it was thought that the best way to be successful in business is by being a business realist. However, history and personal experience has taught us that great entrepreneurs have the actual reverse instinct. They rarely doubt the outcome of a plan and what they all have in common is optimism. So in fact realism and optimism are not diametrically opposed — they are complementing each other and when used together they are all the more powerful and efficient.
So at TRISOFT, we favor the third way — being a realistic optimist. Meaning that in general we are very positive and optimistic, but in some situation (that require it), we might apply a more conservative approach.
We are firm believers in idealistic visions and how they can engage people and give them a reason to fight for. But at the same time we know that we must approach our goals and objectives in a way that acknowledges the reality. Being successful for us always meant finding the great balance between the two.