I’m having a really hard time thinking today. The reason is personal, and I really don’t want to get into it here and bum you out too. It’s just one of those days. We all have them.
On a more optimistic note, … Wait. On second thought, forget that. Optimism is so overrated. There’s nothing more annoying and reckless than someone who fakes positivity he’s not feeling or hopefulness that isn’t justified. Now I’m all out of synonyms for optimism.
Truth is, I’ve built my entire career on telling it like it is, good news or bad. Business is business, not a popularity contest. Work is work, not a lovefest. You always want to reach the right conclusions and make good decisions, even if they’re unpopular. And the only way I know to do that is to search for truth and question the status quo.
And if your instincts tell you that it’s time to be concerned or worried, don’t sweep that under a rug of happy thoughts and grinning emojis. Trust your feelings. And communicate them to those who depend on you.
I’ve always heard that Tim Draper – a legendary venture capitalist in the Valley – is the most optimistic guy around. He’s always positive. No wonder. He’s a third generation VC who grew up in an elite family: a long line of rich ivy league grads who spent their lives hobnobbing with America’s wealthiest political and business leaders. What does he have to be down about?
OK, I know that sounds cynical. Just my mood du jour, I guess.
More important, if Draper’s unflappable optimism made him sing the praises of Elizabeth Holmes long after it was evident that her company, Theranos, had achieved a $9 billion valuation by defrauding investors, customers and partners, not to mention by selling thousands of patients inaccurate blood test results, then please, call me a proud pessimist.
Actually, I’m not a pessimist; I’m a realist. I know, I know; that’s what optimists say pessimists call themselves. Maybe there is some truth to that. All I know is, my career has always come down to three things: results, relationships and reputation. Executives and business leaders get paid for being right, not for blowing smoke up people’s behinds.
Actually, let me rephrase that: not from blowing smoke up the behinds of those who matter. Let the shyster gurus of the world sell their souls for a buck and sell the masses all the fluffy BS they want to hear all day long. That’s not for you and me. If it is, you’re definitely reading the wrong blog.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying it’s a good idea to walk around the workplace whining about this and that and bringing everyone down. You can be genuine without being a bummer.
A big part of being a good leader, boss, coworker, spouse or friend is being aware of what’s going on around you and choosing the right time and place to say things. And trust me when I tell you, some things have no right time and place. Some things are better left unsaid. Probably most things. You know what I’m talking about.
So hey, if you’re an optimist, be an optimist. If you’re a pessimist, be a pessimist. If you’re the next Machiavelli realist, so be it. And if you’re a pessimist who calls herself a realist, that’s OK too. Just as long as it’s true. Just as long as you’re really feeling it. Just as long as it’s the real you.