Pessimists are optimists in waiting

If you are glass half empty type of person, maybe you just haven’t been holding the right glass. Some people are more naturally optimistic, but I believe that everybody has the potential to look on the bright side – perhaps that’s just the optimist in me!

It is the optimists who get things done. But often pessimists are very necessary parts of the creation process. One example is financing. When I started Student, I had to rely on advertisers, who were often risk-averse, to agree to take a chance on this unknown magazine. When we were running Virgin Records, I had to convince very pessimistic bankers not to shut us down on several occasions. By financing us optimists, they helped to grow a global brand that employs more than 60,000 of people.

One of my favourite stories about the power of optimism is that of Helen Keller, the celebrated writer and activist. When an infant illness left her deaf and blind in 1880s Alabama, nobody gave her a chance of achieving anything in life. But she met a fellow optimist, teacher Anne Sullivan, and together they embarked upon a journey that would warm the heart of the most ardent pessimist.

Among her many shining achievements, Helen became the first deafblind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree, and campaigned tirelessly for women’s suffrage and labour rights. By 1980, President Jimmy Carter had authorised June 27th as Helen Keller Day.

"No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit," said Helen. If that’s not a sentiment to encourage you to be optimistic, then grab another glass.

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