Stats, Optimism, Life, Success, Dreams, Calculator, Numbers, Jay Bildstein

Optimism, Will and Statistics

Optimism is a key component in a success formula. Perhaps, it is easiest to see this if we investigate what happens when we replace optimism with pessimism in that formula.

Pessimism is the tendency to believe that the worst outcome in a given situation will occur. Pessimists, in effect, are optimists of negative outcomes. They are positive things will not work out, in the same way optimists are positive things will work out.

When we are certain something will not work out, we tend to exert substantially less effort in the furtherance of achieving our goal. The pessimist thinks, “What I am doing will never work, so why should I work hard only to fail; better that I take it easy.” This might not be a conscious thought, but there it sits in the subconscious.

Pessimists create self-fulfilling prophecies. They believe something will not work and they act accordingly. Hence, they tend to get negative results where success relies heavily on their actions.

Optimists, on the other hand, tend to believe in positive outcomes. Consequently, they are likely to work harder and be more enthusiastic when attempting to achieve a goal. They live the mantra, “Failure is not an option.”

Optimism enables us to express the fullest positive measure of our will. However, our will can only influence what is under our control.

Optimism becomes a liability when we magically believe that just because we want something to take place we can “will it” to happen. Applying our will to ourselves makes sense. How hard we work is under our control. But there are factors that we do not control and this is where optimists run into difficulties.

When in the midst of strategic planning – when we are creating our algorithm for success – we need to take an inventory of all factors adding up to that success. We need to examine which of those factors we can control and which we cannot. Then, and only then, can we come up with a realistic formula for success.


1 – If we are pessimistic about an outcome, and that outcome is significantly influenced by our actions, we are likely to negatively impact our chances for success.

2 – Optimism is likely to fuel our will to succeed – and consequently our success – but this only extends as far as those factors which are under our control.

3 – When it comes to succeeding at a given endeavor, we should pay attention to statistics when reviewing factors not under our control. We can then plan accordingly.

4 – We control ourselves. We do not control the weather. If we live in a rainy climate, our will alone will not keep us dry. However, an umbrella will.


*Authors note: You might see this column pop up online in a newspaper, under the name Both Sides. I am publishing this column here first at For a bunch of years, I have been writing newspaper columns. Since my columns have received a good response on CYInterview, I thought I would share it with you. Hope you enjoy.

You can reach me with your questions and comments at Like today’s column? Check back frequently.

2 Replies to “Optimism, Will and Statistics”

  1. Kenoriam

    Yes, more than not optimism acts as the life blood to keep a dream or goal alive. It is easy to get jaded by the reasons why one can not succeed, but I challenge those doubters to list all the reasons why success is possible. I am so glad this column mentioned that we can only control ourselves. Sounds simple enough, but many people do not like being responsible for their own actions. And prefer to treat everything that happens or does not happen as an act of some external force. Yes, we can not control every variable in life but staying resilient, persistent, and having an optimistic, indomitable will to succeed does make the difference. For example, let’s say the odds are stacked against a person and that person gives up on some goal. Im curious to know (in cases where odds are low) if the reason why the odds of success are low are not because that goal is impossible, but because the will to continue was too easily defeated by either the difficult level or the circumstances beyond the control of that person. Many obstacles are not surmountable. But some are. And if you press on, you’ll learn that many mountains have been moved just by not giving in or up too soon. And, that is where optimism is key.

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