Survival Of The Happiest: How Optimism Affects Your Chances of Success

Four ways that your positive outlook can improve your business.

Survival Of The Happiest: How Optimism Affects Your Chances of Success
[Image: Flickr user Marjan Lazarevski]

There an important lesson entrepreneurs can learn from Disney’s classic film Snow White.


Like the seven dwarfs, leaders who whistle while they work might just be singing a jaunty tune all the way to the bank.

In Snow White, among her seven dwarfs are Happy and Grumpy. In the business world, Happy would be much more likely to succeed than Grumpy. Let’s take a look at why:

Optimism Adds Resilience

Many research studies have shown optimism has a real impact on the ultimate success or failure of your business. Those who are more optimistic can see to a brighter future, meaning they are more resilient in the face of day-to-day struggles.

Resilience is one of the most important aspects of any leader of a growing business. Your road to success will be paved with many bumps and dips along the way. You need to be able to pick yourself back up after a business failure, dust yourself off, and keep chasing success.

You Need Passion to Succeed

Without passion, a business is doomed to failure. One of the reasons entrepreneurs are optimistic about the chances of their businesses is because they genuinely love what they do. In fact, a recent study showed even though economic conditions are less than ideal, most entrepreneurs still have high hopes for the next quarter.


Among micro-business owners, or those who average about eight employees, more than half expected the third quarter of 2013 to exceed expectations. More dramatically, almost three in four entrepreneurs see bright skies ahead when it comes to the future of their companies.

What causes this pie-in-the-sky thinking? Perhaps it’s because entrepreneurs learn more and are more creatively fulfilled than the normal office drone. A recent Gallup study showed 71% of entrepreneurs felt they had learned something interesting the day before, and 89% had enjoyed their previous workday.

While these entrepreneurs are often more stressed than their traditionally employed counterparts (34% to 30%, respectively), their business passion offsets some of the more negative connotations of stress. Which is why the same Gallup poll showed entrepreneurs are the most optimistic group. Asking a sample of entrepreneurs to rate optimism in their future on a scale where the top rung was the best possible future and the bottom the worst, 30% of entrepreneurs placed their future on the very summit of possible achievement.

Why Being Optimistic Helps Your Financial Future

Why is optimism important for your business? Well here’s one big reason: Positive people are more attractive than Debbie Downers.

A recent study by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission looked to find out if head-in-the-cloud dreamers were looked at with more skepticism by bankers. The thought was that overoptimistic leaders of growing companies were receiving less backing from financiers.


Instead the study found the opposite, showing banks are in fact more likely to approve loan applications to those more enthusiastic and optimistic.

How to Look on the Bright Side of Business

“Okay, I’m sold on optimism,” you might be saying. “But how do I change my point of view?” Here are just a few ways you can give your positive thinking a boost:

Cynicism is a self-fulfilling prophesy unlikely to win you any success. It’s not naive to believe in yourself and your company despite the odds. Surround yourself with positivity and this positivity loop will help to boost your spirits.

If you’re taking on a partner or even just hiring new staff, look for those who share your sunny disposition and belief in a brighter tomorrow. These people will be willing to give their all to your company. Best of all, they might also help you cheer up on the days you feel more like Sleepy or Bashful than the star of your company’s show.

Tell Your Story


Taking a few moments out of your day to tell your story or set goals for yourself can help you focus on the brighter future you hope to inhabit.

This might explain why the Jesuits have been adding breaks to focus on mindfulness to their day for about 500 years now. Write down what you want to achieve and spend a few minutes each morning repeating your goals out loud. Writing down your thoughts and goals can be a great way to refocus your energy and look to the future instead of obsessing about the past.

Optimism isn’t a magic potion leaders of growing companies can use to save their businesses. Whistling while you work like Snow White’s seven helpers, however, might just be the best way to ensure you end up with something to sing about.

Aaron Pitman is an angel investor, self-made millionaire, and founder and partner of RA Domain Capital, a domain-name development firm. Follow him on Twitter @aaronpitman, Google+, or you can visit him directly