Do you agree that as a general rule entrepreneurs must be a little "irrational" in believing in themselves in order to be successful?
In his Inc.com article, Jeff Haden points out there’s one essential trait every successful entrepreneur possesses: Irrational Optimism.
I most certainly do. The reality of running a business has the ability to produce negative emotions in the entrepreneur's mind, so a healthy dose of irrational optimism can help the entrepreneur make the necessary actions to succeed.
"Irrational" by whose definition?
"Those who say something can't be done should get out of the way of those who are doing it."
I believe that entrepreneurs, as a whole, could benefit from being a bit 'irrational' in believing in themselves as human beings with great potential and capacities, but should balance it with being 'rational', feet-on-ground when it comes to the very nature and commercial feasibility of their endeavors. That's the trick.
Absolutely agree, being an entrepreneur is the most challenging profession an individual will ever undertake and it requires fortitude that the "rational" person does not care to engage. The biggest challenge is that you have a vision and rarely does anyone else share or understand that vision - that is until you begin making money - and then everyone wants a piece of the action. Irrational? - Absolutely.
For me I like being identified as irrational, because the definition of "Entrepreneur" is to be a risk taker... So, I would say you have to be a little irrational if your going to take a risk.
As a "older" entrepreneur I can say that I take a lot more calculated risk now, LOL. (maybe not as irrational, age and wisdom, has taught me a few thing)
Definately! If you don't believe in yourself who else is going to???
A little irrational inasmuch as they are betting on an unknown future. The optimism comes from their belief that they can mitigate the risk or at least overcome it.
I do NOT believe I'm irrational in believing myself to be successful...just the opposite. It is rational thought and actions that create my success.
BTW here is the definition:
1. without the faculty of reason; deprived of reason.
2.without or deprived of normal mental clarity or sound judgment.
3.not in accordance with reason; utterly illogical: irrational arguments.
I do not relate to any of the 3 definitions given.
I do believe it is rational to think I can succeed even if others don't.
I do think it is rational to believe I can make a difference for my clients .
I do believe it is rational to create something that is not there because it is needed. Henry Ford said "If I had asked my customers what they needed...they would have said a faster horse"
Hi Rob ~
Interesting dialogue around terminology. While I agree with Floyd and Rich that rationality can propel an entrepreneur towards success, a sense of wonder and an inventive mind make the difference between just 'having a business' and building something stupendous. Two of my favorite quotes that speak to this essential left/right brain fusion are:
1) "You were once wild here. Don't let them tame you." ~ Isadora Duncan
2) "The rest of creation is waiting, breathless, for you to take your place." ~ David Whyte
The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. - George Bernard Shaw
I think an entrepreneur should have a deep level of confidence and understanding on the niche that they are trying to exploit. If others think that irrational so be it.
Irrational, Passionate, Dedicated, Forward thinking and maybe highly motivated as there is no one else to sound your own trumpet as well as yourself!
What's irrational about believing in oneself in order to achieve success? After all, if you don't have faith in yourself, then why should anyone else...? Irrational optimism? Sounds like an oxymoron to me. Optimism comes from an extremely rational mind that goes to sleep believing that there will be a tomorrow, as opposed to ending it all and ensuring that there definitely won't be.
Absolutely! Like anything else in business and in life - you're only going to get out of it (your business) the effort you put into it. Any entrepreneur worth his (or her) salt and who is truly passionate about what it is they are doing will ALWAYS have "irrational optimism!"
NO. If fact entrepreneurs must possess a higher degree of rationality than most other people. If they don't they will end up going bankrupt. Level-headedness keeps business owners from going over a cliff or keeping their heads in the clouds (wishful thinking).
If they are not thinking and show a steady hand by employing sound business tools and practices, such as for budgeting, planning, and strategy, they will be just another statistic among business failures.
I think, a lot of time those who write on a topic like this get irrationality, optimism, and a conservative approach to doing business confused. It is not irrational to be aggressive in pursuit in the market. However, aggressiveness must be tempered by reality planning. If it isn't business owners will hit the fizzle factor and either consume all their resouces prior to reaching the market successfully or allocate those resources ineffectively. This approach takes every bit of rationality available.
Apart from this, define "irrationality." I am using it in its normal usage.
For those of you interested in a more in depth answer, I have a new book due for release December 15, 2012 that discusses the issues I address here called "Customer-Driven Budgeting: Prepare, Engage, Execute, A Small Business Guide, by Business Expert Press, New York.
I believe that is part of the definition of being an entrepreneur.
ALL Entrepreneurs believe in the impossible! All of us!
That's half the fun!
Some us don't dream big enough though!
No. Entrepreneurs need to have a cold blooded rational understanding of the risks, and then proceed despite the risks. Irrational belief in oneself without understanding is folly.
I agree with Amara that my question has sparked some interesting discussion and debate. I enjoy stirring the pot and drawing out differing viewpoints. Thanks to all who have responded and contributed so far--keep the comments and opinions coming.
Update: Thanks, all, for the insightful discussion. A lot of good points were made.
Irrational? No! Confident? Committed? Absolutely!
An Entrepreneur must acknowledge the possibility of failure but believe it won't happen to them. Once an Entrepreneur believes they might fail, they already have. That's not irrational. It's a success driven mind set.
Success requires confidence and commitment. Why commit if you are not confident and how can you be confident if you are not committed? There is nothing irrational about expecting success if you are confident and committed. It doesn't guarantee success but it does minimize the potential for failure.