Ollie and Patrick
Ollie and Patrick were twin brothers. They lived normal lives in the same town they grew up in. On their birthday, Ollie noticed that he and his twin brother were gaining weight.
“You two look just fine!” remarked their friend, Samantha. “I’ve never seen you more healthy.” But both Ollie and Patrick knew they struggled to run a mile. They both had tried to get back into shape last year, but their enthusiasm fizzled out after a few months.
Ollie resolved to hit the gym again.
“I can lose weight this time,” Ollie thought. “It will be tough, and I might not make much progress, but I have to try.” Ollie knew that it was impractical for him to run ten miles every day, but he could commit to attending a twice-a-week fitness class with Samantha.
A different mindset surrounded Patrick.
“I really want to lose weight, but there’s nothing I can do,” sighed Patrick. He opened another soda. “The only way I could get in shape is if I spent three hours at the gym every day and ate nothing but celery. I’m just too lazy.”
A few months later, the twin brothers met up again. Ollie lost ten pounds. Patrick created a larger impression on his couch.
Though the two brothers shared their genetics and environment, Ollie believed he could improve himself, and Patrick thought things could never change. Ollie kept his realistic, optimist mindset and achieved a successful career and a nice family. As long as Patrick kept his pessimist mindset, trouble surrounded every one of his goals.
Shawn Achor describes optimists as people who believe their behavior matters. Pessimists, in contrast, are those who think they can’t improve, even if they try.
Optimism is not about sugarcoating reality. If you don’t have a clear view of the real world, others can tell you’re delusional.
An optimist is the kind of person who would attempt a new project despite the difficulty. They would realistically investigate solutions, work with others, and see how far they could move. A pessimist would believe “it’s impossible” before the project even starts.
If you and your teammates can see both the good and the bad in your environment, and believe you can find solutions, your project is more likely to succeed. If you’re surrounded by pessimists, your project is doomed to fail.
Know your behavior can make a difference.