Start from the bottom, or the top?

When I move on a project, a test, athletic event, most anything, I expect to do well and finish near the top. I’m not the best at things anymore, and it’s been a while since I’ve had the best time, highest score, etc. But I believe that I will do well, work hard, and I usually finish up there. If I expect a 98 on a test and get a 90, it’s lower than I expected but still good, maybe a little disappointing. When I ran the Black Mountain Marathon, I hoped for top 30 overall, finished 43rd. Solid.

My wife is different. She starts from the bottom. She doesn’t think she will do well, studies her ass off, trains hard, and always exceeds her expectations… because they’re low. This won’t be a success, I’m going to get a C, I hope I don’t finish last… so that when she gets a 90, does well, and finishes top 3 in her age group, it’s a wild success.

I would say she is a cautious optimist, and I am a confident optimist. I think we frustrate each other sometimes, my confidence and general enthusiasm balanced with her ability to see where the cracks are and account for them. We work well together. Side note: My wife is an incredible woman, not some depressing, un-achieving bore. I will get in trouble if she reads this.

Where do you start from? I don’t think either one is wrong, and people have different approaches. Organizations need both kinds of thinkers to succeed. Would enjoy hearing your thoughts.


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