“Without optimism, game over. The game is over.” -Gary Vaynerchuk
I have been thinking about that quote a lot, lately. In business, optimism provides fuel for growth. Optimism propels individuals and organizations through tough challenges. Optimism lets the good times roll and brings us out of the abyss. Optimism allows us to jump off the cliff, make the big move or hire the key player.
What is optimism?
Hope and confidence in the successful outcome of a project – that is the textbook definition of optimism. This definition shines some light on the essence of Gary Vee’s quote. If we don’t have confidence or hope in the successful outcome of a project, then what is the point? Why get out of bed if you don’t think today is going to be better than yesterday? Why make a sale if you don’t think you can help? Why build a product if you don’t think it’s going to improve someone’s world?
This requires persistence and fortitude as well. Nowhere in the phrase “successful outcome of a project” does it say easy, simple or fast. Nowhere in the phrase “hope and confidence” will you find a guarantee. Failures will happen. Setbacks will test your resolve. You will have to fight through all of that, and you may need to change course in your journey, but you must keep a decided, confident, hopeful, optimistic heart.
Optimism is a choice.
They say you can tell if someone is an optimist or a pessimist if you show them a glass filled halfway with water, and ask them to describe the glass. If they say the glass is half empty, they’re a pessimist, if they say half full, they’re an optimist.
An optimist believes that even if the glass was totally empty, they can, and will, fill it up again. The optimist sees the water in the cup as a blessing and the empty portion as an opportunity. Believing that is a choice, an attitude, a stance taken – not some innate way of seeing the world.
What other choice do you have?
Pessimism. It’s not a good choice, but it’s a choice. You can focus on obstacles, doubt your capabilities, worry about your competitors and stress out about the economy. You can do that if you want to burn yourself out by halftime. Complaining has been proven to make your peers feel worse, and doesn’t provide the complainer with any relief or catharsis, either. You can choose pessimism, but it’s not going to help move you forward, and will likely set you back.
Cautious optimism is pessimism in disguise. I used to work for someone who would probably describe themselves as a cautious optimist. They worked hard, and did well, but it was a joyless grind, constantly working deals and complaining about how they probably wouldn’t close. Even though they did, a lot. They had every reason to be optimistic about every opportunity they pursued, but instead maintained a gloomy disposition! I don’t work there anymore because I knew that attitude would only get their organization so far.
Why am I reading about this in an insurance blog?
There is a lot of pessimism in the insurance business. Like most industries, things are not the way they used to be, and the old guard doesn’t like it, so they complain and worry and predict doom & gloom.
Autonomous cars are going to destroy auto insurance! Maybe, but we have other tools to serve our clients!
Google, or Amazon, or Facebook is going to start selling insurance! Not to my clients if I’m doing the right things!
Lemonade has reinvented the mutual as a digital entity! But it’s still just a mutual insurance company – we have those, too! Maybe we should talk about them more!
The insurance agent is dead! I am alive and kicking and not going anywhere!
I could go on, and some of those threats might knock some water out of our insurance agents glass, but I am optimistic. I believe that there will always be a market for an independent insurance agent like me. That’s not to say I can just skip down the primrose path! I’m positioning my agency with my optimism. I’m building a digital customer experience. I have an agency mobile app. I’m keeping my eye on the market and adjusting my course as needed, but never losing sight of the shore. I persist, merrily into the ever changing marketplace with enthusiasm, confidence and hope that these efforts will all bear fruit.
I hope that you share my optimism in whatever you do because, truly – without it – the game is over.