Successful People are Optimists — They Ask For, and Often Get What They Want

I saw this quote from George Will on line the other day…

“The nice part about being a pessimist is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised.”

I couldn’t let it go.  As a career success coach, I’m always telling my clients that they can boost their self confidence through the power of optimism.  So I don’t see a lot of value in being a pessimist.  If you’re “constantly being proven right” you’re probably creating your own self fulfilling prophecies.  Pessimism works like that.

I choose to be an optimist and create my own positive self fulfilling prophecies.  I do whatever I can control to be constantly proven right in my optimism.  I follow point 3 of The Optimist Creed: “Promise yourself to look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.”  If you want a .pdf of The Optimist Creed that you can frame and hang in your workspace – just like me – go to

You’ll be surprised at what optimism will do for you and what you can get – if you only have enough self confidence and optimism to ask.  A couple of years ago, I got a great lesson in self confidence and optimism from Cathy, my wife.  We are members of the Denver Art Museum.  We had been meaning to see a traveling exhibit, “Inspiring Impressionism” there.  It was closing in a day or two. 

We piled into our car and drove to the DAM.  As we were entering the parking lot, there was a sign saying that the Inspiring Impressionism show was sold out.  That was a drag, but all was not lost as there was another exhibit featuring the quilts of Gee’s Bend that we wanted to see.

Admission to the museum is free for us because we are members.  When we entered the museum, a volunteer told us that the Inspiring Impressionism show was sold out.  I headed for the line that would let us in to see the permanent exhibits and the Gee’s Bend quilts.  I was doing my best George Will impersonation – a pessimist being proven right.

Cathy chose optimism.  She went to the will call for tickets for the Inspiring Impressionism.  She told the woman there that we were members, and asked if any tickets had been returned for that day.  Sure enough, two tickets were available, and we had an opportunity to see some great art. 

This reminded me of a story that I read in Randy Pausch’s book, “The Last Lecture.”

“On my dad’s last trip to Disney World, he and I were waiting for the monorail with Dylan, who was then four years old.  Dylan had this urge to sit in the vehicle’s cool looking nose cone, with the driver.  My theme park loving father thought that would be a huge kick too.

“‘Too bad they don’t let regular people site up there,’ he said. 

“‘Hmmmm,’ I said.  ‘Actually, Dad, having been an Imagineer, I’ve learned there’s a trick to getting to sit up front.  Do you want to see it?’”

“He said, ‘sure’.”

“So I walked over to the smiling Disney monorail attendant and said: ‘Excuse me could the three of us please sit in the front car?’

“‘Certainly, sir,’ the attendant said.  He opened the gate and we took our seats beside the driver.  It was one of the only times in my life I ever saw my dad completely flabbergasted.  ‘I said there was a trick,’ I told him as we sped toward the Magic Kingdom.  ‘I didn’t say it was a hard trick.’

“Sometimes all you have to do is ask.”

I relearned that lesson about asking, and about choosing optimism courtesy of Cathy.  I had seen at least three signs and had one person tell me that there were no tickets available for the Inspiring Impressionism show.  I believed them, and was willing to give up.  Cathy was not so easily deterred.  She got us two tickets for the show.

The common sense point here is simple.  Self confident, optimistic people ask for what they want.  They may not always get it, but often they do.  If you want to become a career success, you need to be confident enough to ask for what you want.  Randy Pausch and his father and son got to ride in the nose cone of the Disney World Monorail – because he chose optimism and asked.  Cathy and I got to see the sold out Inspiring Impressionism exhibit at the Denver Art Museum – because she chose optimism and asked.  Ask for what you want.  You’ll be surprised at how many times you’ll get what you want.  What do you think of that, George Will?

That’s my take on optimism and asking for what you want.  What’s yours?  Please take a minute to leave a comment sharing your thoughts with us.  As always, thanks for reading.


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  1. As you pointed out in your story about the tickets, optimism opens up opportunities that would not be available to you if your attitude was different. So if you like having more rather than fewer options, try the optimistic approach!

  2. You got it. Thanks for the comment.

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