Be a Negative Optimist

Find out how to constructively use negative thinking to make better decisions and achieve greater business success.

learn more about Brian Tracy

By Brian Tracy • Jun 6, 2007 Originally published Jul 7, 2004

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The most important quality for success in entrepreneurship and in life is the quality of optimism. Optimists have an unrealistic expectation of success. As a result, they're willing to try far more things without becoming discouraged. In addition, because of their unrealistically positive attitude, they're willing to persist much longer than the average person. Optimism is a wonderful quality-as long as you have it under control.

In order to be successful in business, and in any activity where your money's involved, you must temper your optimism with negativism. You must be enthusiastic about the possible upside of the investment, but you must be skeptical, critical, suspicious and demanding about all the different ways that your money can be lost.

Seek out and listen carefully to people who are negative towards your idea. Look for negative thinkers, because their viewpoints can be invaluable and save you a fortune in time and money. I have a friend who's a lawyer, and he gives advice to many people on investments. When someone comes to him and asks him about making an investment he's unsure about, what he does is this: He says, "All right, I want you to come to my office and I want you to sit behind my desk. Then I'm going to come in and present this investment to you, and I want you to critique this investment as if you were me."

And he says that when his clients begin critiquing the investments they're thinking about going into, when they start to become negative thinkers about the investments, he says they're astonished at how bad the investments really are. He said he's saved his clients millions of dollars by forcing them to be negative thinkers about their own ideas, simply by switching roles and sitting in front of the desk while they sit behind it. It pays to act as your own negative thinker.

Conversely, don't be overly influenced by negative thinkers. Just take their viewpoints into consideration. There's a famous story of Mary Hudson, who started off with $200 in the middle of the Depression and leased a gas station that two men had gone broke running at two different occasions. And from that location, she built a company called Hudson Oil, which is now the biggest independent distributor of gas and oil in the United States. From a $200 investment, even though everybody told her she'd fail. So remember, listen to negative thinkers, seriously consider what they have to say, but don't necessarily accept their advice.

Brian Tracy is the "Success Secrets" coach at Entrepreneur.comand one of America's leading authoritieson entrepreneurial development. He's produced more than 300 audio and video learning programs that cover the entire spectrum of human and corporate performance through his company, Brian Tracy International.

Brian Tracy

Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP

Chairman and CEO of Brian Tracy International, Speaker and Author

Brian Tracy is chairman and CEO of Brian Tracy International. He is the leading coach on the topics of leadership, self-esteem, goals and success psychology. Learn more at BrianTracy.com

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

This Co-Founder Was Kicked Out of Retailers for Pitching a 'Taboo' Beauty Product. Now, Her Multi-Million-Dollar Company Sells It for More Than $20 an Ounce.
Have You Ever Obsessed Over 'What If'? According to Scientists, You Don't Actually Know What Would Have Fixed Everything.
Most People Don't Know These 2 Things Are Resume Red Flags. A Career Expert Reveals How to Work Around Them.
Business News

Survey: A Majority of Americans Are Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Sixty-four percent of U.S. consumers live paycheck to paycheck — even those who earn more than $100,000 a year.

Business Ideas

55 Small Business Ideas To Start Right Now

To start one of these home-based businesses, you don't need a lot of funding -- just energy, passion and the drive to succeed.

Business Solutions

5 Procurement Trends To Keep on Your Radar for 2023

Procurement professionals must adapt to inflation and a shortage of skilled labor in the face of an economic recession. Investing in a workforce paired with retraining and development strategies will put your company on top amid economic uncertainty.

Business News

Massive Fire At Top Egg Farm Leaves Estimated 100,000 Hens Dead. What Does This Mean For Egg Prices?

Hillandale Farms in Bozrah, Connecticut went up in flames on Saturday in an incident that is still under investigation.

Marketing

How Promotional Pricing Devalues Your Brand

Promotional pricing and discount pricing strategies can cost brands millions in lost sales by promoting unprofitable buying behavior. This article will discuss the long-term impact discounts can have on a brand.

Business News

'This Just Can't Be for Real': Fyre Festival Fraudster Billy McFarland is Now Hiring For His New Tech Company -- And He's Already Selling Merch

McFarland was released from house arrest last September and is currently being ordered to pay $26 million in restitution to fraud victims.