Optimist + Pessimist = Realist?

I recently started thinking about optimism and pessimism after I had a re-read and re-think of my last article. I think it came across as too resentful. That wasn’t really the goal, maybe more to take a step back and have a bit of a laugh at our current “reach for the stars” mentality. I’m not above having a good laugh at myself, or situations that warrant them, which I guess makes me seem pretty cynical to some people.

Today I was reading an article and came across the term “passion project”. I have to admit that I sniggered, screenshotted it and sent it to my very pessimistic and cynical husband. I don’t know if it’s a British, Scottish, or Negative-Nelly thing, but I have trouble using the word “passion” in everyday language.

It’s not that I don’t feel the emotion because I do. When I get in the zone, I could code happily day in and day out and I’ve certainly had my share of “passion projects” where I spend all my free time doing it (and no I’m not counting binge watching Star Trek as a project ;p).

The problem is that I think there are a lot of terms that are just over-used, over-worked and are nowadays meaningless. Working in web development and digital marketing, maybe means I get exposed to these phrases more often. Words like passion, innovative, iterative, lean, agile… they’ve lost all meaning because they’re scattered across websites and sales pitches like sprinkles on an ice cream cone (mmmm sprinkles).

You could argue the point that marketing and sales are all about selling an ideal. Showing the customer the perfect version of themselves if they buy the product. I think that’s old school and no longer applies.

People (and customers are people) see right through marketing crud nowadays. Most of us know that make-up adverts are photoshopped. Magic seaweed capsules won’t make us thin, and as much as we’d all like to believe TV shopping channels; that gadget won’t actually save you any time or money. I think people want realism. They want a real product or service that will actually help them, so our marketing and website text should reflect that, rather than just peppering in inspirational words and quotes and calling it a day.

I would like everyone to “reach for the stars” but I’d also like them to take the pressure off and feel OK if they don’t feel like it today. Some people are quite happy sitting on the ground and having a nice steady happy life. Not all of us are meant to be rockstars.. and that’s ok because being a rockstar is probably hard. Even if you do become one, it might not be everything you hoped it would be, and where would that leave you?

Maybe instead of teaching people to reach for the stars, we should teach them that the path to the stars starts with maybe reaching the next hill, sitting down for a while, having an ice-cream (with sprinkles), thinking about the next move for a while, then taking another step forward. But I might just be too cynical for my own good 🙂



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