Rational Optimism vs Delusional Optimism

There are two types of optimism. There's rational optimism and delusional optimism.

Delusional optimism causes people to bet the farm. They spend money they don't have, thinking that will magically make them rich.
This often comes from confirmation bias. You see the testimonials on a sales page and think "those people got amazing results. So will I."

Delusional optimists fall victim to cognitive biases.

Rational optimism makes you think in bets. You assign probabilities and consider possible outcomes. You also consider the possibility that nothing will work and you'll take a loss. So you take small risks that give you enough feedback to determine whether it's worth going further down a particular path.

Take something like planning an event. The delusional optimists pays for a fancy venue, hires an expensive event planner, and assumes that she'll magically manifest attendees for her retreat. This is common in the self-help world.

People can write whatever the hell they want on a web site. So that person who is crushing it might be getting crushed.

The rational optimist sets guidelines and creates rules for his game.
My old mentor had one cardinal rule for events. You never spend your own money, only the money from ticket sales.

When I told this to Elaine, our event manager, she said "how do you plan to pay for my services? I said "you tell me, you're the event manager. She said "sell early bird tickets." Problem solved. We protect our downside and she gets paid.

Delusional optimists are impulsive. They don't consider multiple outcomes. They're blinded by their emotions. If somebody's entire social media feed is nothing but motivational memes and poetic updates, they are a delusional optimist.

Rational optimists are pensive and decisive. They look 10 steps ahead. They consider the long term impact of every decision they make. Look closely at the people who are successful in a given field, and it's likely they are rational optimists.

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