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Irrational Optimism: The Success Trait Common to Great Athletes, Entrepreneurs

Think about the keys to business success: Plenty of capital. A comprehensive business plan. A thorough market analysis. Remarkable employees.

Each is definitely important. But there’s one essential trait every successful entrepreneur possesses:

Irrational optimism.

Why? To be successful you must embrace belief and push aside self-doubts: feelings that you aren’t smart enough, dedicated enough, adaptable enough, or simply that, in spite of your best intentions and best efforts, you won’t succeed.

Often other people don’t help. Family and friends tend to shoot multiple holes in your ideas–not because they want to bring you down but because they care about you and don’t want to see you fail.

Rarely will people say, “Hey, that’s a great idea. You should go for it!” That’s not how most people are wired. Most–myself definitely included–are a lot better at identifying and listing potential problems. We like to play devil’s advocate because that makes us seem smart.

That’s why you need to be irrationally optimistic. Not because the odds are stacked against success, but because irrational optimism helps you succeed in ways capital, business plans, and marketing savvy can’t.

Of course you can take irrational optimism too far… but then again, maybe you can’t.

Think about sports: A sport is the ultimate zero-sum game. Only one individual or one team can win, but great athletes still go into every game believing they will win because if they don’t believe they can win they’ve already lost.

Is complete self-belief irrational? Sure. Is it also a requirement for high-level athletic success? Absolutely. Great athletes push aside doubt and disbelief.

So do great entrepreneurs.

If you listen to the naysayers you’ll never start a business, never expand, never work and struggle and overcome–and never succeed. If you don’t believe in yourself, however irrationally, you will not succeed.

Although no amount of self-belief is enough to ensure success, the smallest bit of doubt can ruin your chances…

Read more:Jeff Haden, Inc.


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