The words hit me like a punch straight to the gut when Dr. John Deloney said them during his address at the Dave Ramsey Influencer Event, which I was privileged to be attending.

“Pessimism and sarcasm aren’t wisdom.” Five simple words, and yet, when you take a deeper look at them, they are far from simple.

Too many of us, myself included, are too often jaded in our responses to events. 

We view news and change with a lens skewed from “experience” and allow ourselves to dive deep into a dark part of our psyche.

Then, both pessimism and sarcasm rear their ugly heads, and we respond with negativity. Often, we do it because we know we will get a chuckle or laugh from our teammates and coworkers.

But, in the process, you are CREATING a more significant problem. 

You’re allowing negativity to creep into all future activities immediately: initiating, planning, delivering, and (eventually) closing the project.

I’m very guilty of this myself, a quick sarcastic comment when tasked with a new project. I feel it’s harmless at the time, but only when I truly reflect on Dr. Deloney’s words do I realize the harm I’m inadvertently injecting into future team activities.

My temporary lack of discipline is a major obstacle to the success I’m in charge of helping create.

I’m not an overly optimistic person by nature. 

I’d argue that most military veterans, especially Special Operators, are like me. 

We take pride in how quickly we utter a negative or sarcastic comment. It’s almost like it’s a contest to see who can get the best barb deployed.

But, and yes, there is a but. I’ve grown into an optimist. 

I’d even argue that optimism is a necessary (ESSENTIAL) trait of entrepreneurs. 

With it, we’re able to survive many of the more challenging days we face.

So here’s the takeaway: if you are someone others view as having “wisdom,” you need to do your best to harness the pessimism and sarcasm BEFORE they inject themselves into conversations. 

The why is simple: you are harming your team’s efforts. Period. 

In my project management courses, I teach that projects are undertaken to realize potential opportunities for organizations. 

I stress that not all projects are worthy of initiating and that project managers must protect organizational resources, including people, time, money, equipment, and more. 

Protecting these resources doesn’t only mean being fiscally responsible or ensuring project team members’ time is best spent on tasks appropriate to their skill levels. 

If the project is worthy of undertaking, set it up for success. If the project isn’t deserving, allow that to be determined through a deliberate process.

This means shelving your amazing quick wit.  Putting your pessimistic and sarcastic side away. 

Anyone with a position of authority (executives, managers, project managers, etc.) must maintain a positive air and set events up for success. 

Optimism is scary sometimes, but it is not the devil.

Your words and actions matter. Choose them carefully.