How to destroy pessimism and cultivate hope | Entrepreneur

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Over the last decade of my entrepreneurship, I have unknowingly discovered this: positivity is provocative.

In today’s workplace, where we as leaders feel increasingly isolated and alone, being pessimistic is much more popular. It is much easier to cast a shadow than to gather light. It’s easier to criticize from cheap seats than to be in the arena.

Additionally, it seems that most of the content thrown at us, especially in the entrepreneurship space, breeds a scarcity mindset. The vocabulary we hear is militaristic and anxiety-inducing: Chain of Command. Scouting. Boots on the ground. Number of employees. Target group. A call to action. Front lines. Players. Hubbub. Grind.

No wonder we panic, thinking there’s a battle going on and if we’re not actively winning, we’re losing. But we all know where this leads. Our adrenal glands can only handle a lot of caffeine before we burn out.

Related: 3 reasons why employee loneliness is increasing and what role leaders must play

In his book “The Infinite Game,” Simon Sinek encourages entrepreneurs to step back from reality and abandon the mindset that sees each business quarter as something to be won or lost. He says the real goal should be to just keep playing. Entrepreneurship is not something you can win or lose. It’s about endurance, evolution and longevity, tinkering, innovating, observing, solving, discovering and adapting.

Related: Inspiring discussion with Simon Sinek on learning ‘why’

So what do we do when we realize we’re in a fog? When the mundanity and monotony have crushed us and we can’t find a shred of optimism to cling to?

Here are some practical steps I use consistently to get unstuck:

First, escape. A change of pace and a change of place. Find a moment to break away from everyday duties. Block out a day off and go for a long drive. Find a quiet place, leave your phone in the car, and take your journal with you. Reflect on your journey so far and consider some of the prompts below:

  1. Practice gratitude. If you are reading this article on a computer or smartphone, you are almost certainly more privileged than most of the world. It’s easy for us to miss the forest for the trees. I have found that one of the most effective remedies for depression and/or anxiety is gratitude. Make a list of every good, simple, and beautiful thing you experience on a regular basis. Consider this list. Not everyone is doing so well.
  2. Release negative people from your inner circle. Make a list of people who put you down. Names and surnames. And then decide whether they are worthy of a course-correction conversation or whether they are too wallowed in their pessimism to rehabilitate themselves. You don’t have to completely isolate yourself from cynics, but you certainly don’t have to let them into your inner circle, where you have your guard down and are most susceptible to outside influence.
  3. Let yourself dream again. Actually. Travel ten years into the future and experience a perfect day. Journaling all day, almost hour by hour. What time do you wake up? Who are you with? What do you eat for breakfast? What time does work start? What you do at work? Where do you spend your lunch break? What physical shape are you in? How much money do you earn? When does the working day end? What does your evening look like? Be as specific as you can and allow yourself to imagine this aspirational future.

It’s hard to prescribe knowing that everyone’s experiences are so different, but this topic has been pervasive in my sphere lately, so I wanted to share what I’ve found helpful.

Related: 20 Thought-Provoking Journaling Prompts to Help You Succeed

How can we be entrepreneurial when we are pessimistic about the future? Being entrepreneurial means that we fundamentally believe that we can improve things that can be better tomorrow than they are today. This is the essence of entrepreneurship. As a result, if we want to survive as leaders, we must employ regular practices that protect and provoke our sense of optimism.

Sometimes, regular practice is enough to set the flywheel of hope in motion.

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