According to research by Martin Seligman, Ph.D., pessimists are more often right, but optimists accomplish more. Optimism is an emotional intelligence competency, can be learned, and it can be twice as important to your success and happiness as your IQ. Take a look at some of this exciting research!

Optimists attribute every success as permanent, generalize to all parts of their lives, and attribute it to their personal effort. When an optimist wins a contract, he or she thinks, "I always win contracts because I'm good at my job!"

Optimism energizes. It leads to energization and anticipation of success in the future. The consequences of negative beliefs are negative things which leads you to withdraw from the situation with decreased enthusiasm. Because pessimists generalize negatively, failure at one task becomes decreased enthusiasm for the job as a whole and their abilities in general. This is the 'quitter' mentality.

Optimism can equalize other factors. Met Life hired 129 people who didn't quite pass the industry test but they tested high on an optimism attributional style test. These optimists outsold pessimists by 21% in the first year, and by 57% in year 2.

Optimists get better and better; pessimists get worse and worse. University swimmers were told they did poorly in an event (not true). The next swim, the optimists did as well or better, while the pessimists did worse, some (including the team's best swimmers) considerably worse. Pessimists attribute one failure to their overall ability and lose confidence. Optimists can lose one point and go on to win the game, lost one game and go on to win the match.

Optimism indicates when to use a particular player. Use optimists in difficult circumstances, and after failure. Don't use pessimists when they have just failed.

Keep this in mind when managing the team--your success team at home and at work. After all, you can't do it alone!

Sports studies indicate that teams have measurable and meaningful attributional styles, the team attributional style predicts how well the team will do over and above the team's ability, success is predicted by optimism, failure by pessimism, and explanatory style seems to have its greatest effect when a team is under pressure - after a loss or late in close games.

Criterion for using optimism: What are the consequences of failure? If they're high, don't use optimism. If they're low, use optimism.

Seligman suggests using Optimism in achievement and performance situations, and when you want to inspire and lead others. Think of Mohammed Ali. How could he enter the ring if he didn't believe "I'm the greatest!"?

When not to use Optimism? When planning a risky and uncertain future and the stakes are high. There's a certain element of reality-bending to optimism, and some jobs and some situations don't lend themselves to this: financial analysis, bridge building, flying a plane. Optimism works best in sales, high stress jobs, performance situations, and anything where frequent rejection is a factor.

Don’t confuse Optimism with a quick-fix positivity thing. The essence of optimism is what you attribute bad events to and avoiding the negative spiral. Think of the 3 Ps -- permanence, pervasiveness and personalization. The more to attribute negative events to temporary things, limited only to the specific situation, and having nothing to do with you as a causative factor, the more optimistic you'll be and the more success you'll have!

When you plan for your success, plan first of all to be an optimist. It's the first thing I put in place for my coaching clients, and I've seen it work wonders.

Author's Bio: 

Susan Dunn, M.A., The EQ Coach, offers individual coaching, workshops, presentations, Internet courses, ebooks on optimism and other emotional intelligence competencies to give you and your office the winning edge. Visit her on the web at