Did you know that some scientists suggest there is an evolutionary advantage to optimism?

Think about it — pessimists can really take the wind out of your sails when trying to find solutions to complex problems.

It’s as if your newly formed idea or project is a fully inflated tire on your vehicle … you grab the kids and you’re off for a fun day at the beach.

The problem … the pessimist put a nail in all your tires. You don’t notice at first and set off to the beach, but slowly your tires deflate

[tire defaltes] Psssssshhhhhhhh

And before you arrive at the beach you pull over on the side of the road … you get out and check the vehicle and notice all four of your tires are now flat. 

Beach day canceled.

How did it happen? 


In meetings it looks like the word “can’t” and “but”

It sounds like:

  • We can’t do this because
  • I would love to but …

Pessimism is killing your projects, your culture, and is deflating your tires

The solution = optimism.

“Optimism underpins progress by allowing us to believe in a better future, and so make it more likely that we will plan for and begin creating it.”

-Morgan & Barden, A Beautiful Constraint

One business leader understood that he couldn’t change the nature of her organization, but she could change the nature of the conversations being had.

She outlawed “we can’t because” and challenged her staff to use the language “we can if …”

“Can’t because” is an understandable reaction to a challenge.

“Can-if” still honors that the solution is still tough, but invites possibility into the conversation.

The words you use matter a lot.

Language is powerful

And so is optimism!

Keep Making a Ruckus,


PS … I wrote this blog post in response to the weekly prompts other school leaders are writing about inside the Go! Community.

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