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June 07, 2008

Americans as half full of it?

Americans all think they are going to make it big, don't they?

"Half empty or half full? Test your optimism" by Diane Levin at her MediationChannel.com got me thinking. Running a business does require a bit of realism, and a pessimistic streak can help. You can discipline yourself to get that in your make-up, even if your Mom growing up was the Midwestern version of Pollyanna. Still, I'll take optimism as a "default" position for the kind of people I want in my orbit. Some western Europeans seem genuinely alarmed but intrigued when they utter the following, which is said to me frequently and out of the blue: "Americans all think they are going to make it big, don't they?!"* The idea, I gather, is that the great expectations generated by the free-for-all and break-neck culture of American life is a design for failure, disappointment and humiliation. They have a point. According to the Boston Globe, and as Diane points out, as many as 80% of us Yanks, have the sunny-side thing going--and it can work against us. But that is who we are.

*Brits who say this will then throw in, for effect, a loud and somewhat dismissive guffaw.

Posted by JD Hull at June 7, 2008 08:13 AM


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