Irrationally Optimistic & Perpetually Skeptical

A note to my future self.

Yesterday I was watching a video about fatal mistakes startup founders make while building their companies and the presenter said something that resonated a lot with me. He said something along the lines of “founders have to be irrationally optimistic that their idea will work but very skeptical that their current approach.” Although I still have not started my own company, I can already tell from working on my own projects that this is a very important quality to have but not easy to execute on.

Irrational Optimism pushes founders through all the dark days and tough times when the idea isn’t working, when no one is paying attention to it or worse when those that do pay some attention stop caring. I think of irrational optimism as a variable that helps explain how the best founders are able to execute on seemingly crazy ideas and run with them for years until it starts to work. A rational human-being wouldn’t do this. The probability of having a successful outcome WITH a “crazy” idea is too low for most people and they walk away.

Perpetual Skepticism keeps founders in check specially when their ideas start to work. Questioning things what allows founders to build something truly innovative and that holds true for every step from ideation to execution. I am not suggesting that founders should be paranoid and be radical skeptics. Instead I believe that founders should repeatedly question their own assumptions and those of their employees and investors.

It’s so hard to manifest both of these qualities at the same time because initially it seems that they are in conflict with each other. How can you be optimistic about something that you constantly have to question? I think that the answer to this is that founders have to be optimistic and understand that questioning their own ideas is the best tool to keep moving forward towards their desired goal.

That’s it. Note to self over.