The #1 Attribute of an All-Star: Realistic Optimism

Yashar Kafi

While deliberating over how to pick the perfect candidate, you’ve no doubt tallied up a list in your mind’s eye of what characteristics they should possess. How about when you are looking to select a comparable consultant?  Do you call in a Tier 1 consulting firm, ask a colleague for a referral or post an ad for an expert in the field?  In both of those situations, a typical resume list dotted by keywords can’t tell you whether they can meet your needs, or that person can hold their own in times of trouble, or whether they can create a strong rapport of trust that can withstand even the toughest times. But what if there was a secret ingredient in the stuff that makes for quality individuals? A drop or dab of some superpower that amped up the whole package?

Well, just your luck because we believe there is. We call it realistic optimism: the ability to solve any challenging, difficult or convoluted problems while remaining confident that a potential solution is achievable. 

Silver Linings in Stormy Weather

Take a situation in which your car breaks down on the side of the road in a snowstorm like no other. You’re freezing cold; you’re fumbling with your phone to call someone in to help; and, you’re stressed to no end about making dinner and picking up the kids. Now, do you want a mechanic who shows up and says… “Hey, you’re outta luck. You’re going to need a new car, and now” —  or the one who remains calm, confident, and tells you that you’re going to figure out how to solve this mess? It’s not rocket science. If you’re anything like us, you want the fixer who will help you get back on the road in no time.

We’d rather have the second scenario play out, and let the confident warmth of car dude #2 help us believe that despite the cold, despite the inconvenient location of our car on the side of the road, that we do in fact have what it takes to get the ignition running and make it home. We’d rather have, in short, the winning mentality!

Good consultants transform their clients’ perspectives, taking the case from awful to approachable. They partner with them and stand alongside as they test solutions, emanating realistic, positive energy, and seeking out strong ideas. Will all solutions work? Of course not; there will always be setbacks. But by staying as flexible and as agile as an Olympic gymnast, not focusing on one single approach or methodology, star consultants keep their eyes ahead and on the eventual prize.

Optimism Overload

If you’ve ever been in a situation where a coworker, friend, or family member looks straight in the maws of disaster and says, “Don’t worry! Everything will be just fine…” then you know how little that means — and how little it provides comfort. Lots of people do it. In fact, it’s started to get a bad rap, a buzzword for pep without substance. Yet good consultants are the opposite: they’re able to be optimistic because they see parallels and similarities to past experiences in each and every scenario, no matter how wacky it may be.

AMPing It Up

Finally, let’s put the record straight. We don’t believe in coddling our clients or projecting a sense of false hope. That’s the aforementioned “toxic optimism” — and we’d like to stay clear of it! But what we do stand by is believing that we can win in the end for our clients. Urgency, excitement, buzz: all that and more, we find solutions because we’re positive and confident.

We’re the athletes pushing ourselves harder, in order to play faster, better, and with more ingenuity, building trust with our clients like they’re our teammates. We give off the image that we’re winning the match, no matter what. And that’s why our clients keep on coming back, because we bring an extra boost of confidence, as well as the expertise to back it up.

Stuck in a bind? It may be time to look on the bright side.


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