Optimism: Key to Doing Great Things

In 2011, Paul Graham published an essay titled Why Startup Hubs Work. There he wrote about what makes a startup hub, like Silicon Valley, works. Here is an excerpt:

… it is a particularly valuable thing when the atmosphere around you encourages you to do something that would otherwise seem too ambitious. In most places the atmosphere pulls you back toward the mean.

I flew into the Bay Area a few days ago. I notice this every time I fly over the Valley: somehow you can sense something is going on. Obviously you can sense prosperity in how well kept a place looks. But there are different kinds of prosperity. Silicon Valley doesn’t look like Boston, or New York, or LA, or DC. I tried asking myself what word I’d use to describe the feeling the Valley radiated, and the word that came to mind was optimism.

Optimism. That’s the key attitude that the Valley has. That’s the key attitude behind creative ventures such as Google, Facebook, and many others. That’s what makes the people in the Valley dare to work on things that are normally considered too ambitious.

I believe that optimism is an attitude that you, as an individual, must also have. If you want to get the most out of your life, optimism is key. Optimism here means a sense of unlimited possibilities about your future. It’s the belief that, when it comes to your future, nothing is impossible. Your surroundings might not be ideal, but that won’t hinder you from being what you’re supposed to be.

Optimism will change the way you work. You will be energized. You will approach your days with enthusiasm. You will be more creative since you believe there must be a way.

The road won’t be easy. You will have to go through difficulties. But having the right attitude is key. Put optimism in your arsenal. Believe there are unlimited possibilities about your future. Then, and only then, will you start making things happen.

Photo by Purple Sherbet Photography


  1. Optimism here means a sense of unlimited possibilities about your future! Great words 🙂 Thanks

  2. You’re absolutely right! Staying positive is key to getting through life and progressing in both your career and personal life. A favourite quote that I have next to my computer at work is “Sometimes the bad things that happen in our lives put us directly on the path to the best things that will ever happen to us”. It inspires me to stay positive through the tough times. Great post!

  3. I once read (in The Mythical Man Month, I think) that you need to be an optimist to start a software project otherwise you’d never get started. Often projects (personal or business) will be hard. If we don’t take the view that we will suceed – that of optimism – then we risk never getting going.

  4. I fully agree with you about the importance of optimism. I am an optimist and try to always see the possibilities and potential in every situation. It’s definitely a better recipe for happiness and success than being a cynic and a pessimist. I wrote a blog post about optimism a few months back and I started with this quote: “Optimism isn’t just a shift in perspective. It’s an act of bravery.” I think this is true because it’s sometimes easier to focus on the negative and your own fear. It takes courage to push yourself in new directions. Thanks for this endorsement of optimism!

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