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  • Bob Burg

“Business volume to our new targeted market increased by 300% in just 3 MONTHS! ”

~ Dave Brandt, Divisional Vice President, GE Financial Advisors, Genworth

Is Anything Ever Accomplished By A Pessimist?

May 21st, 2013 by Bob Burg

Is Anything Ever Accomplished By A Pessimist?A post on Twitter by the great speaker and author, Billy Cox, quoted former General Electric Chairman and CEO, Jack Welch as saying:

“Nothing of any importance has ever been accomplished by a pessimist.”

To me, this rings true. After all, by their very nature, they tend not to accomplish but rather stay personally stationary and even stifle the creativity of others.

Of course, that’s not necessarily always bad. There are certainly times that pessimists have kept optimists from advancing ideas that would have failed…or at least causing the optimist to slow down long enough to reconsider and improve certain actions. Or, just be a welcome sounding board.

It’s well-known that Roy Disney very effectively served in this capacity to his brother, Walt. And, on a much smaller level, I used to personally run some of my potentially hair-brained ideas past a very wise pessimist I knew. If he thought it was a good idea, then I pretty much knew it was! LOL

So, sure; pessimists have their place in providing “that other side” and keeping the overly-optimistic creatives from doing counter-productive things.

But, let’s take Mr. Welch’s above statement and put it in question form:

Is anything of importance ever actually accomplished or “created” by a pessimist?

Personally, I can’t think of any examples. Not one.

Can you? Please share your examples of such (if any) and your thoughts. I’m optimistic… that this could be an interesting discussion.

74 Responses to “Is Anything Ever Accomplished By A Pessimist?”
  1. Stephen Melancon said at 8:14 am on

    After spending some time thinking about examples where the pessimist created or accomplished anything of importance….. I’ve got nothing! Every line of thought where there was great accomplishment is centered around a central character or group of optimists.

    Your question does remind me of a situation many years ago in the manufacturing industry. A company was tasked with designing and building an automated machine to streamline a process. The company did a wonderful job delivering a great solution in a short time frame. It was a small company and the solution was an extreme technical challenge. I had asked the owner how they were able to develop such a good solution on such a short timeline when so many people thought it couldn’t be done that fast (or at all). The owner’s response was simple and it sticks with me to this day “I guess we were just too stupid to know that we could fail”. I don’t think he had one pessimist on the team.

    Thanks for the thought provoking post!

  2. Bob Burg said at 8:26 am on

    Stephen: WOW! – what a great teaching lesson. Thank you for sharing with us!

  3. Steve White said at 9:29 am on

    I can think of two things that a pessimist can accomplish.

    Firstly, if an optimist is seeking the “approval” of a pessimist, chances are that action will not follow the creative moment. Secondly, when a pessimist becomes the optimist’ whetstone, the result could be clarity and taking right action.

    But who is really responsible for this accomplishment? The Pessimist or the Optimist speaking with the pessimist?

  4. Bob Burg said at 9:36 am on

    Steve: Great food for thought. Thank you for sharing with us!

  5. Zachary Slade said at 10:26 am on

    Bob,

    Great post! Great point that Stephen made as well… Thank you both. It’s all about attitude. I’m fully convinced that the pessimist doesn’t even like being that way. They just don’t understand how the best results are obtained.

    Common Values,

    Zach

  6. Linda Ryan said at 10:51 am on

    Bob, I think MANY things of importance can be “created” by a pessimist… traffic jams, long lines, beestings, bad weather, illness, flight delays…. I’ll stop there. :-D

  7. Bob Burg said at 11:07 am on

    Zachary: Thank you for sharing with us. Personally, not sure whether the pessimist does or doesn’t enjoy it. Is there an emotional payoff of some type for them? Or, do they really just not understand. I can think of both types of pessimists who I’ve known. But, not sure if I’m correct or not in my assessment. That makes for a great discussion in and of itself! Thank you! :-)

  8. Bob Burg said at 11:08 am on

    Linda: LOL! I don’t know if they really do create them…but they certainly don’t help overcome the problems. ;-)

  9. Zachary Slade said at 1:30 pm on

    Bob, that is a great point you make. There has to be some kind of emotional payoff. Maybe for them a negetive payoff is better than none? To your original point; Nothing benificial is accomplished! Thanks Again!

  10. Doug Wagner said at 2:00 pm on

    Got me thinking. Blind optimist or perpetual pessimist? I think most people are a mix and I will write my response in my next blog post. #mystique

    Great post.

  11. Bob Burg said at 2:56 pm on

    Zachary: Thank YOU!

  12. Bob Burg said at 3:03 pm on

    Doug: Awesome. Look forward to finding out what I was REALLY thinking when I read your next post! :-)

  13. Joseph A. Sprute said at 3:18 pm on

    Jesus said, I did not come to bring peace (Mathew 10:24). In fact virtually every known philosopher has something negative to say that impacted others who thought later. Therefore, in theory, every negative thought has the power to produce a positive example or manifestation. The question becomes, who will “own” this?…

  14. Another Great post… Thank You Bob… Absolutely agree, those that can take lemons and make lemonade are the DOERS not the Complainers… knowing the problems yes is important however… then doing something about them is the KEY to Success in an endeavor in life.

  15. Jo Anna Fairfield said at 4:05 pm on

    Thank you for your awesome posts Bob! In reference to the question, “Is anything ever accomplished by a pessimist?” I believe that optimism and pessimism are both a state of mind, a mental attitude that anticipates a favorable outcome, OR an undesirable one. Both are learned, and both are decisions made by an individual. The optimistic person focuses on bringing value to other individual lives and businesses. Optimism allows a person to dream, and take certain risks in its pursuits, which brings productivity. Pessimism stops creativity, hinders the pursuits of dreams and stays stagnant in a self imposed realm of false security. Always expecting the worst is an unbelieving mindset, while a positive mindset will bring constructive criticism and thought provoking cautions to any given situation.

  16. Bob Burg said at 4:36 pm on

    Joseph: I’m not sure I’m really understanding your point. Please feel free to explain. Thank you for sharing with us!

  17. Bob Burg said at 4:36 pm on

    Carly: Great thoughts, my friend. Much appreciated!

  18. Bob Burg said at 4:43 pm on

    Jo Anna: Wow – very nicely put. Great wisdom, indeed! Thank you so much for sharing that with us!

  19. Joseph A. Sprute said at 6:59 pm on

    The psychology of knowledge is my point. Optimism is a product of environment, including genealogy and predispositions learned through practiced behavior. Without pessimist thoughts, the optimistic thought would fuel the ego dangerously. Some people choose to say they don’t have negative thoughts, when in fact we all do. Some have mechanisms to cope with negative realities, though very few people can do this “indefinitely” when life becomes a relative emergency. The point is cognition of emotion defines a better state than the hypocritical truth of believing the world is infinitely happy, when in truth for many people it is not. ~ e.g. Word USE re: Co-Existence

  20. Bob Burg said at 7:28 pm on

    Joseph: Thank you. I believe that, in the original post, I clearly made the point that pessimists do indeed serve a purpose and bring value to a situation. I mentioned two specific instances; Roy Disney and the old friend of mine. And, hopefully I did not imply that being an optimist means disregarding negative elements. There’s really no reason (as far as I know or can imagine) why being an optimist would imply burying one’s head in the sand. It simply means that their attitude is one of…well, optimism. They see the opportunity even in a challenge; they tend to be more focused on the solution than on the problem. That doesn’t mean they don’t acknowledge the problem; it means they focus on finding a way to overcome it. The discussion question was simply: “Is anything of importance ever actually accomplished or “created” by a pessimist?” And, the answer might be “yes” or it might be “no.” That’s why it’s a discussion. Thank you for joining the conversation.

  21. Joseph A. Sprute said at 7:43 pm on

    The old saying, necessity is the mother of invention helps illuminate how every emotion contributes to evolution. Humility “is” key. Optimism works on sunny days, where realism produces pessimistic acts that have led to where we are today. Let’s work towards cooperative definitions that help us coexist, rather than question the origin of the word. I appreciate your forums intent, however the reality seems to champion a “Best” context, where truth is my pessimism has produced acts that led to optimism.

  22. Tracy Graziani said at 9:40 pm on

    I have a hard time seeing any value in pessimism, but I suppose a TRUE optimist finds even a silver lining there, as you did! The way I see it optimism is about moving forward and pessimism is about staying still or even moving backwards. In business there is little value added by the latter.

  23. Bob Burg said at 9:56 pm on

    Tracy: I love your thoughts, and how you said them. Thank you for sharing with us!

  24. Lene Jytte Hansen said at 11:13 pm on

    Off course we can learn things from a pessimist – if not anything else – then what NOT to do, be or think!
    I think we all have a touch of pessimism in us somewhere. Pessimism is not the same as being negative – because I do not approve of having negative people around me – it sucks out the energy level and takes too much strength and effort to load up again.
    I usually use that touch of pessimism to not blindly follow, but being critical and “examin the area”, before “burning all bridges” – then it can be usuful – like learning form failure. But being pessimistic as a “state of mind” – that cannot be healthy to neither be around nor being in it. LOL You can also say that I’m quite pessimistic about the positive outcome of being pessimistic – LOL (could not help joking a little here) Don’t hire a pessimist in you department of DREAMING BIG.

    Thank’s for a GREAT article Bob! You always make me think as there were “no boxes” – and frankly speaking – there aren’t – only those we create ourselves or “have bought from pessimists” that here are :)

    Lots of LOVE
    Lene

  25. Lene Jytte Hansen said at 11:29 pm on

    Linda Ryan! LOVE your comment – LOL :D

  26. Bob Burg said at 6:39 am on

    Lene: Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with us. Yes, it seems we all have some of both in us. And, again, optimism should never be confused with naivete or not making sound choices based on thought and consideration. Rather, optimism and pessimism (at least, how I see them) seem to be basic, overall attitudes in the way one approaches life and ideas. One *focuses* more on “why yes?” and one focuses more on “why not?” :-) And, I love your play on words. ;-)

  27. Signe Linneboe said at 8:22 am on

    To the original note by Bob I agree. I can not think of anything accomplished by a pessimist being celebrated og noticed in the traditional way.

    To the rest of the conversation, my thoughts are these:

    Why and is this a competition between the optimist and the pessimist? And if so, what is it we keep feeding by making these labels and using them in various ways and situations?

    For me, as soon as I label people and behavior it becomes my own barrier and does not help me to go forward in the relation to the pessimist or sometimes the optimist (because he’s annoying). I prefer not to think labels but to see people and behavior with as little labeling and less of my own barriers as possible. I’m not sure a “you’re right or you’re good optimist” is the way to motivate the pessimist into another state of values and in all honesty, to me (hope no offense taken) it becomes a little selfrighteous (dont know if I got that one right) and with that makes it even easier to be more of a pessimist.

    Thanks for an interesting topic and good answers/discussions

  28. Joseph A. Sprute said at 9:02 am on

    Bob, optimism is naive. Honesty is a helpful ingredient of humility. Pessimism is a bi-product of reality, created by a lack of realism in optimists. “Optimism is a mental attitude or world view that interprets situations and events as being best (optimized), meaning that in some way for factors that may not be fully comprehended”. Let’s keep it real please. By definition: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optimism

  29. Bob Burg said at 10:22 am on

    Singne: Thank you for joining our conversation, and for your comments. In answer to some of your concerns: No, I don’t believe it’s a competition between the two. As you see from the original post, both types bring value to the equation. However, in my opinion (and, it is simply an opinion, which is why I asked a question at the end), the different *focuses* of an optimist and pessimist tend to result in accomplishments coming more from optimists and “checks” (also important) coming from pessimists. I do tend to see a pessimist at times being so strong in their negativity (being pessimistic for the sake of being pessimistic) that they can be counterproductive to positive progress. In terms of the word “label” that you used…while “label” often implies a negative, I don’t think it necessarily has to. We use language as a way of all of us being able to know what something means. For example, that is a tree, that is a suitcase, that is a human being. Those are labels we place upon a “thing” in order to clearly identify them. People even label themselves. I am Jewish or I am Christian or I am Muslim or I am Buddhist. Again, labels (used objectively) simply help us to identify certain things. So, I’m not sure I’m seeing exactly what you’re seeing in terms of the point of the article. However, I love that you are giving it deep thought and seeing it in a way that you deem to be productive in helping to clarify. Of course, I also may have simply communicated my point in the article in a way that was inefficient and/or ineffective. Thank you again for sharing with us!

  30. Bob Burg said at 10:31 am on

    Joseph: In my last response to you, I did my best to answer your question and concerns. Apparently, I did not do so in a way that was effective. When you say that “optimism is naive” I respectfully disagree with that. Again, it’s important for people to understand that one being an optimist (having a general attitude of optimism) doesn’t mean denial of problems or simply rushing head-first into something without thought and consideration (despite the summary by wikipedia, which implied a naivete). It simply means more of a “how can I?” type of mindset rather than a “Why I can’t” mindset. Regarding your statement, “Honesty is a helpful ingredient of humility”…I agree with you completely. I’m not understanding, however, why you feel that statement conflicts with anything else I’ve said, either in the original post as well as my several replies to your comments. In terms of your statement, “pessimism is a bi-product of reality, created by a lack of realism in optimists”, well, I don’t necessarily agree with that, but I do respect the right you have to your opinion. When you say to me, “let’s keep it real please” it implies that I’m being “less than real” in my thoughts and comments. I would respectfully disagree with that, as well. Joseph, thank you for your comments and for participating in the discussion. I think our personal conversation has reached the point where nothing either one says is going to advance the knowledge and goodwill of the other so it’s probably best to conclude at this point. Again, my thanks.

  31. Joseph A. Sprute said at 10:33 am on

    Words like “we use” implies an assumptive close. I am not part of your “we” in terms of the respect needed to garner association. This is how optimists superimpose their reality on truth, and why disturbances are caused as a result through uncertainty associated with word “meanings”. I.T. “is” good to be positive, certainly. However we feel pain for important reasons. Humanity is learning to mature, and as we evolve helpful interpretations, “we” become less threatening, and more inviting to related community standards and industry lexicon. Word usage is important to understanding utility. Meanings are what is wrong with our world digest of wisdom. I hope you can understand my interpretation of your article given this explanation. Thank you for your patience. You posited that optimists are credited for invention. I vehemently dispute this, and your notions for how “credit” should be distributed.

  32. Joseph A. Sprute said at 10:37 am on

    To disagree with fact, isn’t optimistic. In fact, it is creation of pessimism. A definition evolves not through use of opinion, rather opining of science fact. Let’s do the etymology to define truth in word use. Please ~

  33. Doug Wagner said at 10:41 am on

    As promised, my official comment is now a blog post. Includes puppies, Larry Winget and a powerful decision making tool. Thanks for the inspiration Bob.

    http://blog.sunwaptasolutions.com/weblog/2013/05/embrace-optimistic-pessimism-for-business-greatness.html

  34. Joseph A. Sprute said at 10:42 am on

    An agathist is a relative to an optimist, where an antagonist is relative to a pessimist. There is not scientific method to describe your approach to understand cheer. English is part of the word family called language. Let’s consume the benefits of every word for best earthly uses, not to divide and conquer.

  35. Bob Burg said at 10:47 am on

    Doug: My pleasure. I thought you presented an excellent look at the two, and did a far better job than I did in showing that both sides of the equation have their place in the process. Actually, I thought I did that in my original post, but obviously not anywhere near to the degree I should have. Great article, my friend!

  36. Joseph A. Sprute said at 10:48 am on

    Bob, I don’t know you personally, so I would not say this is personal against you in terms of word usage. You are a product of an Optimist system. You need help, that’s why I’m here. ~ Best!

  37. Bob Burg said at 10:52 am on

    Joseph: I’m fine with you disagreeing with me and content to let you have the last word in terms of opinion. You are obviously a very intelligent person and have made some excellent points in defense of your position and premise.

    I’m not content, however, to accept you painting me as a divider, as you did in your last sentence. Please be able to state your own opinions…without feeling the need *to divide* by placing meaning in someone’s words that have been explained in several very polite and respectful comments to you.

  38. Joseph A. Sprute said at 10:54 am on

    Bob, regarding division: you wrote, “Is Anything Ever Accomplished By A Pessimist?”, and then further you supported an opinion saying, ““Nothing of any importance has ever been accomplished by a pessimist. To me, this rings true.” ~ That’s divisive. Just sayin’…

  39. Joseph A. Sprute said at 11:37 am on

    In a world where the lowest common denominator suffers the rewards of the affluent, honesty is recognizing that if the glass weren’t half empty, there would be nothing else to drink except air. I’ll give that the optimist “is” willing to get up for another glass of ?, however that philosophy raises new questions of ownership and slavery. Honesty, is the best policy. We are all the same.

    ps — Sorry, if my interest in your blog has created turmoil, except to say it is good. I’m done.

  40. Bob Burg said at 11:50 am on

    Joseph: Thank you. While I don’t see that as being divisive as much as simply being my opinion, I appreciate your opinion (and, can *absolutely* understand how it could be interpreted that way). And, thank you for being part of the conversation.

    Regarding your following comment, part of it I don’t really understand, and part of it I don’t generally agree with. Though I think it probably has more to do with my not understanding what you mean. But, again, I’m fine with that and appreciate you sharing your opinion.

    Regarding your ps, nothing to be sorry about, and thank you for your participation.

  41. Joseph A. Sprute said at 12:34 pm on

    I ask you, Sir are opinions divisive? Why do you choose to say an opinion is not divisive. That is the question… Only you have the internal “fuel” to answer this honestly. Is $ the reason? Is that bad? Why should I care? See where this goes?… It becomes pessimistic. That is a very good thing, because pessimism can find all the holes in any argument. Creating a holy explanation for every true optimist ~ CHEERS! “is” C=R*P/M… Define your “M” and we may even agree.

  42. Joseph A. Sprute said at 12:40 pm on

    In fact, I see opinions are like glue holding civil society together, without (WHICH) we would have no means to extract truth or construct value e.g. Brilliance (Ownership) re: Cognition (Shared)

  43. Robert M Brandt said at 9:32 pm on

    Of course something is accomplished by pessimists…… Pessimism!! :)

  44. Bob Burg said at 6:37 am on

    Robert: LOL!!

  45. Steve White said at 9:14 am on

    Doug: Enjoyed your blog post. I’ll keep an eye on more from you. Thank you.

    Joseph: Your posts give me an opportunity to stretch my thinking. Thank you.

    Bob: As always, I appreciate the thought-provoking blogs, posts, and discussions. See you in Dayton soon. Thank you.

    Thank you all. :-)

  46. Donia said at 4:38 pm on

    I have to agree with Joseph on the issue of divisiveness of your opinion: you are putting down pessimists by literally saying they don’t accomplish or create *anything* of importance and then cheer on commenters as they further put down pessimists… since you’re an optimist in the “in crowd,” it may not feel divisive because there are so many optimists in your cheering section, but to the pessimists out there, especially the creative ones, it is divisive.

    As an artist, writer and a pessimist myself I have to disagree that pessimists don’t create anything of importance unless you believe literature to be unimportant – because there are plenty of classical pessimist authors. (Whether you personally like their work or not is irrelevant regarding the importance of their creations: their published books and writings).

  47. Bob Burg said at 7:06 pm on

    Donia: Thank you for joining the conversation and for sharing your thoughts with us.

    I do feel badly that you feel I have “*cheered on* commenters as they further put down pessimists.” I believe you’ll find that, if you go through all of my responses, I thank *everyone* for their comments (at least the first time they comment) regardless of whether they agree with me or not. And, I’m hardly the type to set people against one another.

    I’m wondering if – perhaps – because you feel that my premise was negative toward pessimists that you saw my responses to comments along that frame.

    Regarding your entire second paragraph, I believe you make an excellent point and that you are correct. Indeed, to say “‘nothing’ of any importance has ever been created by a pessimist” would indeed be both improper and incorrect. I think you made that point extremely well and I stand corrected.

    Divisive, though? No. This post was intended to be a discussion (and, discussions on this blog are always civil). That’s why I asked a question at the end.

  48. Donia said at 7:34 pm on

    Thanks for the reply, Bob, and I’m glad I was able to change your mind on the topic! (Whether your fellow commenters will read this far and “witness” your admission is doubtful, but nonetheless, it’s there :-) )

    However, “cheering” and commenting issues aside, the approach to the topic is still divisive because any time you paint one group as less than another, you are being divisive. (And I don’t see how much more “less than” someone can be (unless you bring in archaic viewpoints on race) if you’re saying (historically!) they can never accomplish/create anything of importance)

    I think debates and discussions are great and obviously you need opposing viewpoints to do so, but that doesn’t negate the fact that topics can be presented in a unifying or divisive manner and I think this was the latter.

    But as I said, I do appreciate you having an open mind and a generous manner and I can tell that it was not your intention to be divisive, even if that was the result of your word choice. And as I also said, I think that’s an easy thing to do – overlook the group you’re (unwittingly) putting down – when you’re in the majority… hopefully some can take away a lesson in this (rather than simply writing me and others off as being overly sensitive or nitpicking semantics).

  49. Esther said at 4:08 pm on

    Woody Allen comes to mind.

  50. Bob Burg said at 4:22 pm on

    Esther: Could be a perfect example!! I figure that he’s either optimistically “nebbishy” or truly a pessimist who has created masterpieces! ;-)

  51. Doug Wagner said at 4:49 pm on

    Esther, Woody Allen is a fascinating example. Most people are a mix of both and it often depends on the subject. Might fit under the category of highly optimistic he can make movies and pessimistic about other things.

  52. Bob Burg said at 5:07 pm on

    Doug: Great point. On a serious note, while Woody’s “characters” often have a pessimistic bent, he himself would certainly appear to have a high level of confidence and optimism in certain areas. Difficult to imagine a person with a “pessimistic outlook” accomplishing success within the field of major entertainment. As you say, it could just be the subject.

    I wonder, then, looking back at Mr. Welch’s original statement that inspired the post: “Nothing of any importance has ever been accomplished by a pessimist.” …

    Would it be true that a pessimist – by the very nature of the term – could not USUALLY (again, I take responsibility for the inappropriateness of the word “nothing/never”) accomplish/create *in the specific area in which he or she is pessimistic?* Again, as mentioned in my original post, they could provide advice and counsel. However, it still seems to me that it would be difficult to create or accomplish when one is pessimistic about something being possible.

    Then again…

  53. Esther said at 5:15 pm on

    Woody Allen’s success seems to be based on his pessimism and neurotic behavior. He claims that none of work set out to be for financial gain. He simply made the movies HE wanted to make. His documentary about his life and creative process gave me hope. If someone so so very pessimistic could be successful…. there is hope for us all.

  54. Doug Wagner said at 5:15 pm on

    Or the act of being pessimistic forces them to make a choice… continue down that path or find an alternative that avoids the pessimism altogether; not because they intend on being optimistic but to avoid the worse choice. Hahahaha!

  55. Donia said at 5:52 pm on

    I think Bob and Doug must not know very many real artists (I’m not just talking about visual artists, but filmmakers, musicians, writers, etc) because their creations have nothing to do with *results* (e.g. Doug’s statement “Might fit under the category of highly optimistic he can make movies and pessimistic about other things.”) And I’m not talking about people who label themselves as artists, musicians, etc that are simply making a product they can market and sell (and there are *plenty* of those people flooding the airwaves, art markets, etc).

    I personally know and know of many artists who are pessimists who create because they *must*, not because of any pessimistic or optimistic view of their future or their work! That has nothing to do with their creativity and creations, which are often GREAT ACCOMPLISHMENTS.

    But, noticing this is actually a blog about “success” (I came upon this discussion from a twitter post) I can understand why there is a lot of confusion on the topic: I don’t think “success” has anything to do with creating/accomplishing something of importance. Many of the most important creative accomplishments didn’t bring the creator any success, and many “successful” people (in the typical sense of the word: money, “awards” (I put that in quotes because many these days are meaningless), a certain lifestyle, etc) don’t have any truly creative (in the broadest sense of the word) accomplishments.

    So perhaps your seemingly myopic viewpoint/topic presentation should be altered to: Can a pessimist achieve success (without the help of optimistic managers/agents, etc)?

    Because that seems to be the crux of the spin on things. And if that were the question, I think it would bring about a much more meaningful debate that I would be hard pressed to answer.

  56. Bob Burg said at 5:59 pm on

    Esther: You wrote: “He claims that none of work set out to be for financial gain. He simply made the movies HE wanted to make.”

    I’ve found that most people who have accomplished great things did not do it with financial gain being their primary purpose. Usually, financial gain was merely the result of their accomplishing their goal (which is one reason we say that “money is an echo of value” – it’s more a measurement of the value that has been created).

    I bring this up, first, because I was wondering how you tie that into “pessimism.”

    And, when you said “He simply made the movies HE wanted to make” that, again, sounds like someone who knew what he wanted to do…and did it. And, I would be inclined to call someone such as that an “optimist.” I’m not arguing with you, of course; just asking in order to clarify my own understanding of the issue.

  57. Bob Burg said at 6:10 pm on

    Donia: If I may suggest, you sound a bit angry. And, you perhaps even come across as just a tiny bit insulting. Notice that the discussion taking place is mainly people providing opinions and respectfully asking questions. And, respectfully responding to the thoughts and opinions of each other. That how we learn from one another…and how we grow.

    You wrote: “I don’t think “success” has anything to do with creating/accomplishing something of importance.”

    In trying to determine what you mean by that, I’m thinking you must be defining “success” in only the financial context. There are many different forms of success; financial being one of them. It’s very difficult for me to imagine that someone who has created or accomplished something of importance isn’t successful, whether financially or in some other way that brings them joy and a feeling of making a contribution to life.

    Just my opinion, of course.

  58. Joseph A. Sprute said at 6:18 pm on

    I propose a standard in word use concerning the lexicon of Best “Attitude” OVERALL evolve, whereas the relationship comfort has to amity must properly associate strife, it’s relative worth, and any ecological purpose concerning life or death before attempting to administer “TRUTH”, as social remedy or sustainable purpose for espousing divinity – e.g. attitude re: freedom

    What Donia said about the NEED to create, is a function of our Spiritual Biology. Science has yet to digest the angst associated. If you are looking for concrete examples, consider Vincent van Gogh ~ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vincent_van_Gogh

  59. Joseph A. Sprute said at 6:22 pm on

    In this context, consider the glass 2/4 full ~ Balance involves reason, purpose, knowledge and experience in order to consume the benefits of useful purpose. In other words, think before you speak, and always consider the oppositions argument before presenting your benefit. Good advice.

  60. Esther said at 7:06 pm on

    Bob- I admire Woody Allen so much because I still feel challenged with balancing what I do because I live to do it and provide a service and also monetize. He makes it so clear that he does what he loves no matter what. As far as pessimism- he portrays such pessimistic characters in his films but as you said, he must be optimistic doing what he loves!

  61. Donia said at 7:24 pm on

    Bob – I’m not angry, but I did admit in a previous post to being a pessimist/realist, so perhaps it sounds that way to an optimist? I actually defined success (in the typical sense) in my post, and didn’t only list financials.

    History is full of examples of creative people who never get that “feeling of making a contribution to life” because they die before their work is discovered so they never know the impact their accomplishment/creation has on the world or other people.

    I would be interested to know if you would consider someone ‘successful’ who “created or accomplished something of importance… that brings them joy…” when they’re struggling to feed themselves and/or their family and keep a roof over their heads, but are able to find moments of joy and peace in their creative endeavors. Given what you wrote above, would you consider that success? Because I consider that the basic reality and survival for many creative people: their talent/need to create isn’t some indication of success, it’s just a fact of their existence.

    As for you suggesting that my post could come across as “a tiny bit insulting” and then using previous comments in this discussion as an example of “people providing opinions and respectfully asking questions. And, respectfully responding to the thoughts and opinions of each other…” and “That how we learn from one another…and how we grow.” I have to say: I respect the sentiment, but disagree that’s only what’s going on above (that’s not to say that *no one* has achieved this above!). Why? An easy example is you repeatedly responding “LOL!” or “Thank YOU!” or “they certainly don’t help overcome the problems” to the following comments:

    “Bob, I think MANY things of importance can be “created” by a pessimist… traffic jams, long lines, beestings, bad weather, illness, flight delays…. I’ll stop there.”

    “To your original point; Nothing benificial is accomplished! Thanks Again!”

    “Of course something is accomplished by pessimists…… Pessimism!!”

    To a creative pessimist reading these comments and your enjoyment of them, this can come across as insulting as well. Not that I care, I’m only pointing it out because of your previously quoted comments.

  62. Donia said at 7:25 pm on

    ps – if you find my use of the word “myopic” insulting, I only used it because it seems most people reading this article and commenting are simply using it as an easy affirmation of their optimistic beliefs rather than actually thinking outside their viewpoint (and *growing* as you pointed out) and trying to address the topic of pessimists creating/accomplishing things. Heck, if you simply Google “pessimism,” the very first hit is a Wikipedia entry with a giant melancholy portrait of Arthur Schopenhauer followed by an entire article of great people who were pessimists! but I digress…

  63. Bob Burg said at 7:36 pm on

    Esther: Regarding Woody’s portrayal of pessimists and whether he really is, or not…I don’t know. But, it sure would be fascinating TO know!!

    Regarding your thoughts on being “challenged with balancing what {you} do because {you} live to do it and provide a service and also monetize” I’m not really sure I understand your concern there. Why need it be a “balance” of the two? Can’t you live to do it because you are truly passionate about it AND monetize it in a big way, as well? The two fit hand-in-hand, rather than being something that needs to be balanced. Serve more people with the exceptional value you provide and you will receive an even greater income.

  64. Joseph A. Sprute said at 7:51 pm on

    Bob, to me it sounds like you are trying to monetize happiness with ignorance theory.

  65. Joseph A. Sprute said at 7:53 pm on

    I agree with the creation of smiles, and through the optimistic means of success only when mean doesn’t create pain elsewhere. That’s ignorance. See what mean?

  66. Esther said at 8:36 pm on

    I watched a 2 part documentary on Netflix on Woody Allen and he said he is not pessimistic, its just a character he plays. As a writer I struggle with wanting write whatever I want and being told that is not the way to get paid for writing. : )

  67. Joseph A. Sprute said at 8:36 pm on

    Take for example Walmart Superstores, the pride of Arkansas. The exceptional value they offer is their greatest weakness; price, selection, value ~ facts support both sides of every important argument. Don’t you believe it is a very good thing this is true? – e.g. inexpensive creates inferior products (long list) having greater competitive selection (slave labor) with less practical use overall (trash). re: optimism can also over shadow unrealistic hopes and dreams unwittingly. This is why balance “is” essential.

  68. Bob Burg said at 8:49 pm on

    Esther: Interesting about Woody. Thank you for sharing that.

    Regarding your writing whatever YOU want to write, yes…that’s exactly what to do. Write what YOU want to write about. Because, your passion (and the exceptional value you provide to your readers via writing from your heart and based on the wisdom you’ve acquired) will connect with those who are the “right people” to embrace it. Whether the front end sales of the book will sell as much as another book would; well, only the marketplace can determine that. However, via the positioning you’ll receive from your book, you’ll be able to create even additional value you can then make available to those readers who then want further coaching, resource products, or whatever else you decide to produce/create.

    As far as the people telling you “that is not the way to get paid for writing” (i.e., “that won’t work”) well, they would be the pessimists who – while often well-intentioned, and sometimes correct (when based on wisdom and experience) are often the ones who discourage people when they should be encouraging them.

    Remember that Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield got turned down by something like 150 publishers because “those kinds of stories would never sell.” Half a billion book sales later…those people may or may not realize they were incorrect.

    I’ve personally had about 8 or so books published. Each of them were books *I* wanted to write. Some have sold very well; others have not. I don’t regret having written any of them.

    I don’t know if this helps or not. I hope it does provide some “food for thought.”

  69. Esther said at 11:07 pm on

    thank you for the inspiration and reminder. I have to keep an eye out for pessimists. they usually come cloaked as “realists”. : )

  70. Bob Burg said at 6:55 am on

    Esther: :-) My pleasure!

  71. Sarah W said at 2:58 pm on

    It’s fabulous to have such a large group of people who concur that pessimists do not achieve success or greatness or anything of lasting importance.

    The pessimists (or realists) tend to be those people who ‘like’ where they are and do not want anything to change. They may indeed prove to be valuable sounding boards for people who want more, maybe because they offer even greater clarity for the big thinkers by offering crazy suggestions for why something should not be done or cannot be achieved.

    There are many examples of people doing bold things throughout history, that did not perhaps seem wise at the time…not until amazing results were achieved. Invention of the light bulb, creation of vaccinations to eliminate diseases, proving flight was possible, free social media platforms….

    These accomplishments were not achieved by pessimists – but by people who had the tenacity and determination to chase their goals. I know the type of person I’d sooner hang out with – do you?

  72. Joseph A. Sprute said at 5:18 pm on

    Folks, it was the popular optimist club that created pessimism in the first place, so lighten up. Think back a little, Ted Turner threatened to kill himself if his investors didn’t turn; Howard Hughes became so consumed with invention he lost sight of adventure… How many examples do you need to realize do unto others holds more weight than optimism?

  73. Donia said at 1:12 am on

    Sarah W: I find your examples of greatness interesting because the very first one (and perhaps others, though I don’t feel like doing the necessary research) is a great example of what I relayed to Bob in an earlier post regarding creative people who create because they *must* – not because of any optimistic or pessimistic view/feeling they have about what they’re doing – and often die without any sense of accomplishment (even though history would prove they were great accomplishments) while others come in and take credit, money, etc, etc, for that person’s accomplishment(s) often during the original creator’s own lifetime….

    Edison did not invent the lightbulb, as much as people love to believe that, and use him as an example of a great American, man, etc. For a humorous recounting of what Edison actually “accomplished” I suggest taking a look at this comic:
    http://theoatmeal.com/comics/tesla
    (The writer of this comic also started a Kickstarter to build a long-overdue Tesla museum).

    None of this is to say that I believe Tesla was a pessimist as I have no idea, but simply that creative minds must create no matter the results or medium and historically, many “optimists” will come along and say “That’s a great idea/creation! I can sell/promote that!” and make a bucketload of money, fame, what have you, from the accomplishments of other (often pessimistic) creators. So whose accomplishment is it then? The person who *created* the thing, or the person who is able to sell it? And this all goes back to my original point that it is erroneous to assert that pessimists can’t accomplish or create anything of importance.

    I also find it interesting that even though Bob conceded to me in a comment that he was wrong in his original assertion regarding the importance of many pessimists’ accomplishments, saying “I stand corrected,” this is not reflected in any addendum in the original post, and the “optimists” are still happy to make judgments of other people of whom they apparently have a very shallow understanding.

    Personally, I’d rather hang out with truly creative people in any field – whether “optimists” OR “pessimists” – because they’re the ones who are really accomplishing things of importance (whether they get discovered, famous, rich, exploited, or not).

  74. Donia said at 1:31 am on

    ps – the footnotes in the http://theoatmeal.com/comics/tesla comic are interesting – especially the one on Marconi, considering that he was still being taught in schools as the inventor of the Radio in the 1990s (maybe even still now?)…

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