• Dr Lottie Miles

Be More Optimistic!

Is the glass as half full, or half empty?

Some people will always look for the positive potential in a situation. These people see challenges where others see threats, they appreciate what they have, rather than regret what they don't, and they embrace a learning opportunity when others only see a failure.

Optimism is synonymous with successful people and elite performers in every field.

Some are brought up to be optimistic - their glass is always half full. Others have to work a bit harder to consciously look for the positive side to a situation.


The more you practice optimism, the more natural it will become. I bet there is at least one small thing you can take away from even your worst failures and mistakes?

Practice to Improve: An optimistic view of failure

Mistakes create learning opportunities. You can learn much more from an error than you can from a successful attempt. Optimism protects you from the potentially debilitating nature of an error and enables you to learn and move on.

An optimistic person will see failure as an inevitable step in the path to maximising their talent - they will never master any skill without making a great number of mistakes. Some might say that mistakes are a rite-of-passage to success, and thus each error is something to be celebrated, as it gets you one step closer to realising your talent.

Optimistic people realise a mistake, a failure or a loss does not diminish their talent.

Optimism allows you to reflect on your errors with objectivity when you practice. You can see the true order of events, and understand how you can correct or adjust the elements of a skill or movement that are within your control.

Performing for Success: The protective power of optimism

In the heat of battle (or competition), you're not focused on learning from mistakes, you're just trying to perform well. Optimism is your tool for gaining and maintaining your self-confidence during competition.

Optimism enables you to look beyond and even dismiss your errors as a minor blip in the grand scheme of things. This doesn't always have to be logical, or even truthful - in the heat of battle, optimism can help you attribute errors as an occurrence that was out of your control, an exceptional circumstance or twist of fate. There's no need to dwell on such instances.

Optimism will reinforce your self-confidence.

Optimistic athletes often don't even recall their mistakes during competition - some will firmly deny they ever made even one! This is not because they're unrealistic or deceitful. They simply don't give their errors enough importance to warrant the memory. Optimism has the power to make even big errors seem like a minor inconvenience. This is vital if you want to remain confident in your ability to succeed.

How to think like an optimist: Remove the emotion from your mistakes.

If you let a mistake eat at you, if you let an error change your mood, or allow a setback to threaten the measure of your talents, you’ve already lost the plot (and probably the match). You will also lose the ability to learn from your error, or put it behind you. Emotive responses only serve to make your mistakes more memorable for all the wrong reasons. Let optimism keep you on the right track and protect your self-confidence when you need it most.

Mistakes, failures, errors of judgement and 'unlucky bounces' occur every day. They happen to the very best in the business and they are necessary for everyone to learn, progress and improve. Be optimistic about your mistakes and failures and when you have the chance, look to learn from them. Don't attach an emotion to a mistake. Learn with controlled objectivity. And never, ever let a or even a series of errors and setbacks define your ability to achieve your goals.


Sport Mentality is a free blog written to help casual exercisers, sports enthusiasts and athletes get the most out of their activities and performances. Please feel free to share these posts with friends, team mates and coaches, and don't forget to subscribe to my newsletter (see the form below) to get alerts about new posts, article summaries and Research Watch links from Sport Mentality.

sport mentality

by dr Lottie miles