I recently read an article bout how constructive fear can lead to positive results. The author believes that too much optimism leads to loss of drive to accomplish goals.
I completely disagree with this line of thinking.
I’m a big fan of optimism and BHAGs (Big Hairy A## Goals). Fear is definitely something negative that I don’t condone in the work place nor job search. Fear enforces negative thinking and behavior. It’s especially dangerous since it can so easily amplify and lead to a debilitating state of procrastination and pessimism.
On the other hand, setting audacious goals and accepting that “failure is not an option” can do nothing but produce good results. Napoleon Hill in his famous book Think and Grow Rich brings up some very good points on the subject. None of our successful business role models were pessimists. They set goals and never accepted failure. They didn’t just stop by setting goals, but by constantly thinking about those goals and creating plans that helped their realization.
I admit, BHAGs without plans are nothing more than thinking you’re going somewhere, hoping you’ll get there, but having no definite path you’ll take to it. Planning is key and must be a part of any goal setting/achieving exercise.
Mind you, optimism alone is not enough. Napoleon Hill reminds us to practice the seven positive emotions:
And to avoid the seven negative emotions:
Notice that Fear is on top of this list! The number one habit to avoid holds as true for finding work as for setting sales, development, and delivery goals at work.
With regard to setting an unrealistic timeline, we can certainly read the statistics on how long ON AVERAGE it takes an executive to find work, but who actually sets their goals based on averages? Do any of us think, or better, SHOULD anyone ever be satisfied with setting life goals around averages?
I disagree we need a sense of urgency through constructive fear. I suggest we can have a sense of urgency by setting BHAGs that aim to beat the average anything. This BELIEF, not want or wish, that you WILL land in a shorter time than the majority of the population is what leads to a constructive urgency to accomplish it. In fact, it’s faith, desire and hope that will help you plan and pave the road to success.
Let me explain what I mean by belief. Complete belief or “knowing you’ll achieve your goals” is the same type of belief that you have that the sun will rise tomorrow. That night time will be followed by day. It’s a truism. A fact.
I admit, this level of belief in your own success is difficult to achieve. Even if you achieve it, you may sometimes lose faith in it, but that’s only a sign of fear. It’s fear promoted by negative news that feeds into a lack of belief.
Knowing you’ll achieve your goals requires confidence in your own abilities and skills. And once you have this belief you’ll be able to go to sleep dreaming about your success and how to achieve your goals, waking in the morning KNOWING that you will. Failure to achieve BHAGs, then, is not a question of too much optimism so much as it is in not having enough belief in yourself and your ability to achieve them.
I suggest, whether we’re setting goals at work, to gain new business, or in finding our next employer, we become the eternal optimists and draw our path to success through our thorough planing and absolute belief that we can achieve our goals.