27 September 2023

Positivity not naivety: How to stay positive in a dangerous world

Start the conversation

Bruce Kasanoff* rejects the theory that positive people are naïve optimists who cannot see looming threats or dangers.

I write quite a bit about being positive, and some readers have suggested that a positive attitude equates to putting your head in the sand.

Let’s take a minute to test that hypothesis.

Not so long ago, I watched The Big Short, a film that attempts to explain the 2008 financial crisis by following a handful of investors who saw it coming.

Here’s my question: Could an optimist have seen the crash coming?

Here’s my answer: Absolutely.

Let’s imagine you are an optimist.

If I ask you whether it is a reasonable investment to own an AAA-rated bond, you’d probably agree.

However, what if in 2005 or 2006 I told you that in the housing market financial investments sold as AAA-rated actually included high proportions of investments that deserved much lower ratings?

If you believed me, you probably would have decided that they sounded like a bad investment.

Here’s the rub: As an optimist, you probably would not have suspected that an AAA-rated investment actually deserved a B rating.

I say this with a high degree of confidence because almost no one suspected this.

I may be an optimist, but I also live by the principle of “trust, but verify”.

Just because someone claims something to be true does not mean it is true.

Just because you want everyone in the world to be kind, honest and compassionate does not mean everyone actually embodies those qualities.

It is possible — even advisable — to live each day with a positive attitude while still keeping your eyes wide open and your mind alert for potential threats.

Do optimists look both ways before crossing the street? I certainly hope so.

If others are out to get you, it’s not paranoid to believe that to be true.

It’s not negative, either.

By the way, the real story of The Big Short is the utter lack of accountability in our world, especially among mainstream players.

You might want to keep that thought front of mind as we go through the rest of this year.

*Bruce Kasanoff is an executive coach and social media ghostwriter for entrepreneurs. He can be contacted at kasanoff.com.

This article first appeared at kasanoff.com.

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.