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December 7, 2015

Optimism is a

Competitive Advantage

Research by Puri and Robinson at Duke University shows that optimistic people work harder, get paid more, are elected to office more often, and win at sports more regularly.

It turns out that optimism is more than just a positive state of mind. It’s also a competitive advantage in business, sports and politics. While the pessimists are complaining about the future, and the realists are talking about it, the optimists are working hard to create it.

The research shows that your attitude helps create a self fulfilling prophecy. Because optimists believe in a positive future they actually “delude” themselves into working more to make it possible. They believe and thus are willing to take actions to achieve.

This Saturday I took my daughter, who thankfully loves football, to see the ACC championship game between two optimistic coaches and teams. I had read in an article that the University of North Carolina (UNC) had read The Positive Dog during training camp and was thrilled to hear it made a difference. However, over the last four years I had spoken to Clemson during training camp and before games and developed a strong relationship with the coaches and team so I went to the game to support them.

A few hours before the game I sat in on Dabo’s pregame talk to the team and marveled at his unwavering optimism and faith. He said "This is your destiny." "You are at the door of greatness. But you have to step through it." “I’m so proud of you. You already won with all the work you have put into this moment.” And “You are a champion on the inside before you are a champion on the outside.”

I’ve realized over the years that one of Dabo’s keys to success besides recruiting, building a family culture and hiring great coaches is that he believes in his team more than they believe in themselves. Dabo told me one time that, “People often call me an overachiever but I’m not an overachiever. I’m an over believer.” And after Saturday night’s win Dabo’s over believing has helped Clemson become the #1 ranked team in the country.

Of course this doesn’t mean if you are an optimist you will always succeed in the moment. I wasn’t in UNC’s locker room but I’m sure Coach Fedora shared similar messages and beliefs with his team. UNC never gave up and played with the heart of a champion. They had an amazing season and if a few plays, here and there went there way, they could have won the Championship as well.

While optimism is a big thing it isn’t everything. Optimism won’t guarantee today’s victory but it does mean you’ll keep believing and working hard for a better future, giving you a greater chance it will ultimately happen. Both Clemson and UNC understand that their attitude helped propel them to a championship game and know that staying optimistic will bring them more opportunities to succeed in the future.

In a competitive world filled with adversity, naysayers, and failure optimism is a game changer. You don’t have to take my word for it. Ask yourself what could you and your team achieve if you believed in an optimistic future and your ability to create it? Then give it a try.



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Kick off the New Year

with Lessons from the Locker Room

Former Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith is now available to speak to your team and organization this New Year. Mike is willing to speak to your team or consult with your leadership about the 7 C’s to Build a Winning Team featured in the book he wrote with Jon, You Win in the Locker Room First.

To book Coach Mike Smith to speak to your team and organization contact

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