Entitled, “The Problem With Positive Thinking,” Oettingen’s article focused on weight loss programs she’d studied and how detrimental positive thinking was to dropping pounds. Oettingen wrote, “…positive thinking often hinders us.” She also says, “Positive thinking fools our minds into perceiving we’ve already attained our goal, slackening our readiness to pursue it.” To which I’d add, “Amen, sister.”
I often engage in conversations with our senior staff about a new business pitch or defending an existing client. When I think we’ve missed the mark in our presentation and suggest we move on to greener pastures, I’ll often hear, “Steve, you’re such a pessimist.”
Au contraire, I actually see myself as a realist. So instead of wasting time and money creating drop-dead creative follow-ups to dazzle the prospect/client, I, instead, choose to move on. I think it’s a much more realistic way to view the wonderful world of strategic communications.
Oettingen agrees with my philosophy (or maybe I agree with her POV). She’s developed an approach that combines positive thinking with realism. Simply put, it works in the following way: “Think of a wish. For a few minutes imagine the wish coming true, letting your mind wander and drift where it will. Then shift gears. Finally, spend a few more minutes imagining the obstacles that stand in the way of realizing your wish.” The last part is spot on, especially when pertaining to defending a piece of business.
Robb High, a new business guru, advises readers to “Never defend a piece of business. Instead, immediately resign the account and go after their competitors.” While I agree with High in general, I wouldn’t resign the account for a very practical reason: I’d want to collect the 60 or 90-days of billings guaranteed in the contract.
But, I think Oettingen and High are spot on. It makes no sense to smell imaginary roses when the odds are very good you’ll end up picking thorns from your bruised body.
And, that’s why they call me Mr. Realism.