It is that really going to work? The ups and downs of cynicism

Over the weekend I was sent a business plan for a new initiative being set up in remote Australia to address significant and complex issues including health, school retention and employment for Aboriginal Australians. The business plan was well researched, incredibly detailed and I’m sure very compelling to most readers and investors. The catch was that I was immediately struck with this overwhelming cynicism around whether it would work.

This automatic reaction surprised me. Who have I become? I recall a number of years ago I was working on a project where a collaborator accused me of being blindly optimistic (as if optimism is a bad thing). He couldn’t believe that I had such an unwavering belief that what we were working on would work. Meanwhile, his default position was what I described as ‘willful pessimism’. It was willful as we were responding to the same inputs, but with very different reactions. For me the situation was not pessimistic, it was his willful response that was.

Pessimism and cynicism are different of course. Read more