Going into something unknown, one of my instincts is to think about what all can go wrong. I may take it to extremes in some cases too (like what if.. death!). This is often taken as me being a pessimist. A friend of mine hinted at the same conclusion just yesterday and I mumbled something about me being an unlikely pessimist, after all I like to pursue lofty goals, try things that may be unlikely to succeed etc.

I thought I’ll put down a better articulation of why I (and others who do the same) think like that. It is easy to brand it as “negative thinking”, but hear me out..

In a way, this may be a trait acquired from an engineering background. As an engineer we like to think of failure cases. In fact, we design for failure (and a little bit beyond)

In my opinion, the so called “negative thinking” is quite the opposite to being a pessimistic approach. It is something that sets the foundations for optimism. If optimism were to be based on failure scenarios not occurring at all, I would compare that to making a building assuming that the earthquake will never strike. On the other hand, since we do not know the future, and have no way to predict it either, it is safe to assume that failure will happen (in life, as in business), and to build with that knowledge. It helps in being better prepared, when that earthquake does strike.

So to me optimism is in knowing

  • that bad things will happen
  • we will take a few tumbles
  • and maybe even a few battles will be lost

Eventually, we will prevail.

PS. My post is titled pessimism, kill me!

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