Uh-oh! Are You A Chronic Optimist?

As a student I lived in St Petersburg, studying Russian at the university and partying my way through the beautiful white nights.

 

I loved the raves in the old communist film studios (fat-necked guards with machine guns kept us in line) as much as the murky underground bars where the beer was graded 1-3. (I have no idea what the grading system meant, other than indicating what kind of hangover you’d get the morning after….)

 

And I partied on one side of the river Neva but lived in a concrete hostel on the other side.

 

This was a BIG problem.

 

Every night the bridges over the river would open between 2am and 5am to let big ships through, meaning I couldn’t get home This meant at 1.55am, I’d have to decide whether to be sensible and go home, or stay out till 5am.

 

Fuelled by Grade 3 beer and the optimism of youth, I always decided to stay out.

 

I was a chronic optimist.

 

But as the nights of partying took their toll, I’d often kick myself by about 2.45am, when I’d be exhausted and wanting my bed (only to make exactly the same mistake the next night of course).

 

And it struck me that many business owners have the same sense of blind optimism about their marketing.

 

Why Optimism Sucks In Marketing

 

So many businesses owners underestimate the amount of time it takes to do a particular marketing activity, and over-estimate the amount of time that they have available to do it. This means they end up starting lots of things but never finishing them (like my copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses I bought to look clever. Just. So. Hard.).

 

And this means all their marketing efforts bring zero results.

 

How To Cure A Chronic Optimist

So what’s the answer? Well, business psychologist Tony Crabbe suggests that we take the following 2 steps:

 

  1. When we estimate how long it’ll take to do something, we should double it
  2. When we estimate how much time we have to do a task, we should halve it

 

We’ll then have a MUCH more accurate idea of whether to take an activity on or not, and if we do we’ll have a much better shot at completing it.

 

So if you’re a die-hard glass-half-full-person who plans their barbecue weeks in advance during the British Summer, I salute your optimism. But just try to add a healthy dose of realism when it comes to your marketing, ok?