× Explore our resources to learn how to reach your career goals with a graduate business degree.

Optimism: The Secret Skill of Successful MBAs

smiling meeting

When you think about predictors of success, many traits come to mind, including intelligence, ambition, and discipline—just to name a few.

And while all these qualities contribute to your success, there’s one less expected characteristic that may play a bigger role in career success than any other trait: optimism.

Since optimistic people have a positive outlook about the future, they’re inclined to work harder to achieve their goals, so they can realize the bright future they’re envisioning. Because of this, optimism breeds success; it acts as a self-fulfilling prophecy, but in a good way. By cultivating optimism, you can boost success for yourself and those around you. And if you harness it with the right skills and education, the opportunities are boundless.

Sign up to receive advice, tips, and exclusive offers to help you on your journey.

When looking toward the future, here’s why adopting an optimistic attitude is essential:

It allows you to see (and seize) opportunities

Because they’re confident about the future, optimists see opportunities where others may not. They have faith in their abilities, so rather than being inhibited by self-doubt, they see unlimited possibilities. They’re not discouraged by hurdles they encounter along the way, either. Instead, they see new challenges as opportunities. This gives them courage to embark on new career endeavors and adventures, enabling them to reach their full potential.

It makes you a more effective leader

Optimistic people exude positivity, and their energy and enthusiasm is contagious and inspiring. When you’re around people with a can-do attitude, chances are better that you’ll adopt the same attitude. This is one reason why optimists make great leaders—they instill confidence in those around them.

They’re also not discouraged by small setbacks. It’s inevitable that everyone will encounter a few bumps along the way in their career, but optimists set themselves apart by staying focused on the big picture. Since they don’t get overwhelmed by every challenge they stumble upon, they effectively lead teams by encouraging them to persevere in the face of adversity.

It fuels entrepreneurship

When thinking about the future, optimists aren’t constrained by negative thoughts, doubt and worry. This allows them to stay open-minded, and promotes creative thinking. If you’re a budding entrepreneur, this is fundamental, as it will help you generate new ideas for products and services, which can set you apart from the competition.

And, since optimists expect positive outcomes, they’re more inclined to forge ahead in the entrepreneurial space. Because they’re in unfamiliar territory, entrepreneurs may be hesitant in the decision-making process. But if they’re optimistic about what the future holds, it can motivate them to charge ahead and make decisions without second-guessing themselves.

Turn optimism into action

Are you an optimist, but unsure how to channel it to propel your career forward? Check out our interactive “Calling All Optimists” quiz to see how you can turn your optimism into action!

Sign up for advice, tips, and exclusive offers to help you on your journey.