Understanding the Mix of Traits That Could Make You More Successful
I recently read an interesting blog post called “The Counterintuitive Trait That Will Make You Significantly More Successful,” and I immediately tried to identify into which quadrant I, as an entrepreneur, fit. Undoubtedly, the blog was spot on. I was satisfied with being labeled a credulous optimist, which is where most entrepreneurs fall.
But I started thinking about why I don’t see myself in the skeptical optimist zone, as well as what the benefits would be if I did find myself as that type of person. Most of us look at optimism and pessimism as black or white: Optimism is always good, and pessimism is always bad. A new angle this blog post proposes is adding another dimension, where you are credulous or skeptical in combination with being optimistic or pessimistic.
In the traditional thought process, being a pessimist is still not considered a very positive trait, even in combination with being credulous or skeptical. Conventional wisdom says the combination of optimism and credulity would be ideal, and it does score highly on the chart of possible combinations where entrepreneurs and adventurers fit in.
However, another interesting combination that is talked about is being a skeptical optimist—a person who sees a bright future but does not want to buy into things too easily. This particular person has doubts before being sold on anything.
Skeptical optimist is a zone into which visionaries fit. Steve Jobs is said to have been a strong example of this type. Jobs questioned anything that was presented to him, yet he was an optimist about what could be done in the world of technology. He successfully leveraged this combination to establish a remarkable future for Apple.
This leaves me wracking my brain over possible things I could achieve if I were a combination of optimist/credulous at times and optimist/skeptical at other times. Although this is not easy to achieve given the contradictory nature of credulous and skeptical traits, I could leverage this combination to become a powerful entrepreneur and visionary through enough practice.
This is a point worth serious thought for all of us. For example, apparently hackers are usually skeptical optimists. If so, a tester could try to emulate this trait to look at the application under test from a hacker’s viewpoint and try to tighten security.
We are all born with specific traits that are not easily erased. However, knowing which combination yields specific results will at least help us emulate different traits in order to make a difference in what we do. To that extent, let’s learn to be both credulous optimists and skeptical optimists as warranted by a given situation.