My Life System #28: Optimism

By nature, I am an optimistic person. As an entrepreneur, one has to be. You have to believe that tomorrow will be better than today – not just for yourself but for the world too. Without optimism, life will be very difficult.

I wasn’t always like this. There was a period in between (1993-1994) where almost everything I did failed. That was perhaps the low point for me. With failure upon failure, I realised that at some point of time my luck will have to change! And it did, thought not before further tests which challenged me.

We tend to go through ups and downs. The problem is when the downs have a deep impact on our psyche. I tell entrepreneurs that when there is a failure, it is not you who have failed, but the idea, the venture. And there can be many reasons for that. You will fail only if you give up and don’t venture out again. Because there is much to look forward to in life.

This positiveness is what has kept me going in many of the difficult periods of life. I have a belief that whatever happens is for good. I know it is too broad a viewpoint to take, but without it, there is a possibility of going down a mental morass, which then feeds onto itself to pull us down for a much longer duration. In the period that there is something not good happening, optimism is what can pull us through. Keeping the spirit high, especially if one is leading a team, is very important. Else, there is no charting a path out of the hole.

When I look back at the worst moments of my life, I also see that a few months later, they resulted in something better. The failure to win the election for School Captain led me to do a public speaking course. The academic downer of my first semester in IIT pushed me to participate in cultural activities. The job offers I did not get after my Columbia Masters led me to NYNEX and a much better experience. The funding I did not get during IndiaWorld led me to a much better outcome with the eventual sale. There are perhaps other words to describe the event and the outcome, but I see it as living life with an optimistic streak that one can prevail over an outcome not of our liking.

On a longer timeframe, optimism is what keeps the smile on our face every morning, the cheerfulness even when something sad happens, the external happiness even though the inside may be hurting so we don’t pull others down with us. The world has a lot to be happy about. Compare our lives today with a generation ago. And the future itself is bringing in a pace of innovation that we could not have imagined. So, be thankful for today, and always look forward to a better future. Every tough time has passed, and even though more will come, we have it in us to rise and climb the next mountain. This quote by Christine Caine sums it up well: “Sometimes when you’re in a dark place you think you’ve been buried, but you’ve actually been planted.”

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.