Posted by: David D. Daggett | October 27, 2008



     Optimism, or having a positive mental attitude, is the first trait from ourIndicators of Successwe will explore. Optimism is an interesting concept. Optimism and positive attitude are not completely interchangeable, and psychologists tell us that these can be very different concepts. For our purposes here we will use the area of these two concepts that overlap.

      Optimism as a trait is part nature, part nurture, and part a conscious decision. In Elementary Leadership we discussed how development during of informative years can influence whether we become healthy adults. The nurture, structure, latitude model for raising children can and does have a direct impact on producing optimistic adults. As leaders, we can certainly be conscious of nurturing optimism in those around us.

Being optimistic and having a positive mental attitude are largely conscious decisions that we all make. Excuses that blame nature or nurture at this point in our lives are largely irrelevant. Further, excuses actually negatively program our brains and become self fulfilling, making it even harder to be optimistic! We are where we are and we can only look forward – of course, we have to be optimistic to do so.

We, as individuals and as groups, become what we believe and expect. These beliefs and expectations need to be positive for us to achieve future success. We actually become what we believe and expect. These are our goals. The only caveat according to a Harvard study (so, it must be true!) is that there must be at least a 50% chance of obtaining these goals or else it is just fantasy. So, optimistic must be realistic.

Conscious optimism and positive thinking program us to and for a higher lever of achievement. We can use our conscious mind to form a positive habit pattern that makes us more positive and more optimistic, which in turn makes our successes more likely. By affirmatively programming ourselves we grow what I have heard described as a mental garden which bears much fruit. We discussed this practice in The Magic of “Yes!

We know, and research tells us, that we to to be optimistic and have a positive mental attitude to fulfill our potential.




  1. How true David!

    We missed you and the family at Ironman this year but hope you had a great year.

    Joe Loschiavo
    Aid Stations Director

  2. Great read, thanks

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