Can you be so optimistic that you are completely out of touch with reality? Can you believe so strongly in your own dreams and ambitions for yourself, your family, and your business that you just don’t “get it”? 

Many people believe optimism is one of those touchy-feely things requiring a bridle and a bit to keep under control. And many people, especially those who declare themselves to be the “devil’s advocate,” are anxious to rein in the high hopes of those around them. 

If you are a business owner, one of your highest hopes probably deals with succession success—the continuation of family and business success through the next generation. Sometimes, achieving success requires being headstrong and pushing forward regardless of current circumstances. When you feel overwhelmed, on the verge of defeat, and questioning your goals, reassess your situation using these steps: 

  • Take time to organize your thoughts; 

  • Look for connections between “cause” and “effect”; 

  • Ask trusted advisers for their opinions; and, 

  • Increase your awareness of the situation by gathering new information. 

Under certain circumstances, the negative critics may be right. After all, Napoleon did get too far out in front of his supply lines; and he did discover that Russian winters are brutal. However, there is a game-changing question you can ask those who doubt something can be accomplished. Once you concede to the naysayers that they may have a point, ask them this simple question: “Well, if it could be done, what would it take?” 

In 1961, when John Kennedy announced that he thought we should go to the moon and back by the end of the decade, NASA had a grand total of 15 minutes and 22 seconds in space flight. His experts recognized it would take thousands of hours in space, many more astronauts than the nine available, hundreds of millions of dollars, and technology that had not yet been invented. Yet in spite of all those potential obstacles, we got to the moon and back in just over eight years. 

Succession success is not rocket science, but it can seem as daunting. But with optimism and belief in others, both family and business can find harmony and a common purpose in continuing the business legacy. 

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