Optimism vs. Skeptisism

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Topic 1: The power of optimism to take you to your destination.


The Lexicon Webster Dictionary has translated “optimism” as an inclination to emphasize the happy aspect of any happening or circumstance. Phil. The conviction that the world is good and is building towards the ultimate in excellence.

“Skepticism” is disbelief or inability to believe; doubt; incredulity; a doubting of the truth of religious beliefs as revelation, esp. the Christian religion.

Jimmy Dean said: “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”

According to my experience, observation and research, I agree with Jimmy Dean. We cannot control what happens around us but we can always change our perspectives on what we encounter and experience in order to have more peace and contentment in our life.

As human beings we have the ability to make choices. This is including making choices on how we want to feel and how we want to interpret what we see, what we hear and what we experience.

The two characteristics and attitudes I have noticed as being paramount and influential in our life are our optimism vs. skepticism. Whichever characteristic you choose to have, they both have capability to make a big difference in how we live, how we see life and how we deal with everything in our journey.

I have observed that optimists are more likely to be happier group of people and succeed in achieving their goals while skeptics are more likely to stay still, be more resentful, be judgmental, often feel miserable and live with a lot of regrets in the end.

Optimists believe that no matter what happens around them, they can always see the positive side of any situation. They are capable of turning bad situations into the positive side. They are hopeful and have high level of appreciation of what they have or receive.

Optimists see the half filled glass as half full (good) while skeptics see it as half empty (bad). Optimists think that things are more likely to do well than bad while skeptics think the opposite.

Optimism can generate creativity, peace, contentment, happiness, satisfaction, motivation, positive energy, results and the ability to move forward and to succeed no matter how challenging things can be along the way.

Because optimists are hopeful and eager, they are not usually affected negatively by the challenges they encounter along the way. They can in fact turn challenges into opportunities. They deal with all situations gracefully and move forward towards the next step of the process.

While I believe with all of the positive notations about optimism, I have unfortunately experienced a fraction of the downside if you were over-optimistic without calculated expectations. Being over-optimistic without being prepared with the potential hurdles or blockages during the journey can be disadvantaging to some degree. For example: investing all the money you have in a high risk portfolio without doing any research or seeking professional advice before hand can result in a big loss in the end, which can be very disappointing. However though, optimists, over or not, are more likely to succeed in the end, as they do not usually give up until they get the results that they want because they do not believe in giving up and they do not believe that they can actually fail.

I know a few people around me who are skeptical, unlike me. Whenever I tell them about something I intend or plan to do, they always want to know details and always manage to tell me the negative side of the potential outcome. They rarely see the potential success but they never fail to see the potential failure in anything. It is kind of tiring to be around with because they tend to drag you back or down a lot. They act as the blockages for me. Therefore, I have had to avoid being around them too much, so I can move forward. Sometimes I don’t even tell them my plan to avoid them trying to talk me out of it as this is the best way for me to stay motivated.

Failure is not an option for optimists. They usually see failures as temporary set-backs. They see mistakes as lessons and they learn from their mistakes quickly. Even the over optimists who take high risks, they are still likely to win and succeed in the end. It may just take them a little longer to get to their destination and they may experience more or bigger set-backs during their journey, although this usually makes them become much stronger people.

Let’s talk about skepticism now. Skepticism acts like a stone blocking a passage. Skeptics usually procrastinate a lot and do not move forward easily. They see the negative sides of every situation and they have fear in taking action. They usually fear to fail and fear to move forward, just in case things do not work out and they believe that something, somewhere will go wrong.

Skepticism is highly disadvantaging to human growth in life. In fact, I am confident to say that it can be dangerous to others around them, particularly to the optimists. This is because skeptics or skepticism can drive the optimists crazy. Skeptics are frustrating and stressful for optimists, because they tend to drag you down with negativity and blame.

Skeptics do not do a lot in their life as they always worry of failing. They are capable of finding any reason or excuse to not do something. They usually like to blame others or things to give themselves permission of not doing something, not making positive statement about something or not moving forward at all.

On the opposite note about skepticism, I can even say that some people deliberately choose to be skeptical in order to stay in their comfort zone and not having to do anything different or challenging at all. It is not so bad if they stay within their own zone. However, it is unfortunate that a lot of them are usually strong willed and strong minded people to influence others becoming like them, because they are not usually open minded or able to see other people’s view point.

Skeptics do not like to set goals, as they have no intension to move forward and they cannot see the point of putting any effort into things as all they can see is wasting time and not achieving anything. They do not believe in good things to happen to them and often under-estimate their own ability.

As coaches it is important to be able to identify if your client is an optimist or a skeptic. This is not difficult to do. We should be able to sense from their speeches. Optimists will almost always say that they can do and achieve what they want in life. They may say things like: I can achieve anything I want. Skeptics may say things like: yes, it’s all good to want something but there are too many people already doing it, or the study takes too long, the Government has too many rules, etc. There is usually always an excuse or two and they often blame.

Skeptics almost always have doubt or fear in their mind. They often cannot see themselves succeed. They have every excuse under the sun why they cannot do or achieve anything. They usually spend their time complaining, blaming and feeling sorry for themselves.

What they do not realize is how much time and energy they spend on staying still or not moving forward and by the time they turn a certain age, they will still be complaining saying things like: if only I had …. I would have …., I could have …., I wish I did …., so on and on they go. In the end, they spend a lot of time feeling negative, feeling sorry for themselves and never achieved anything significant in their life. They will blame other people or other things why they did not achieve what they wished they achieved.

It is quite fascinating what effect skepticism can do to people’s lives particularly if the degree of it is high and especially if they are around people who are optimistic. Skepticism or pessimism can actually become damaging to themselves and to others if it goes on long enough.

Despite the above findings, I think that if we were over optimistic we could take too high of a risk in our action and if we are not strong enough to handle the failure, we may become depressed due to the effect of the fall.

On the other hand, a high degree of skepticism may cause the same effect of living full of regrets as they never moved forward enough in their lives.

As coaches, we have accountability to enthuse skeptics and pessimists.  We need to motivate them to become more optimistic and positive, so they can keep moving forward to achieve their goals. During coaching sessions we should be able to identify if our clients are ready for long term coaching.  We may identify signs that our clients are not ready to move forward.  If they keep talking about the past problems and not willing to move forward, they may require therapy first before they can continue with their coaching sessions.

Therefore, as a conclusion, I think that it is better to be optimistic with ability to make calculated decisions before we take action on whatever it is that we decide to take action on.

In order to be able to make calculated decision, we need to be skilled, knowledgeable and experienced. We therefore need to invest in studying, learning, researching and networking to become the type of person who is confident and optimistic. Hence succeed.


  • Describe the times when you were optimistic and when you were skeptical.
  • Provide reasons that encouraged you to be optimistic or skeptical during those times in your examples above.
  • What results did you get from being optimistic and from being skeptical?
  • Which gave you the better result and which one would you prefer to be, optimistic or skeptical?
  • What did you do to remain optimistic?

Contact Details:

e > tenny@icandolifecoaching.com

w > (yes that’s right, you are right here)

s > tenny.charlesworth

m > (+61) 422308614

p > (+61) 8 83847993


Tenny Charlesworth CPC

Copyright © 2009 – “I Can Do Life” Coaching


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