SA Leadership Podcast Episode #133

Realistic Thinking


Realistic Thinking

The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality – Max DePree

Anyone who has been out of school for any length of time knows there is a huge disconnect between college education and the real world. Understand that reality is the difference between what we wish for and what is!

It is awesome to be around people who are naturally optimistic. Realistic thinking can get in the way of optimism. Realistic thinking does not get in the way of optimism nor will it get in the way o faith. The opposite is true, it can actually add value. Here are seven ways that realistic thinking can add value.

Realistic Thinking Minimizes Downside Risks

Actions always has consequences, realistic thinking helps you to determine what those consequences could be. This allows you to plan ahead to minimize risk.

Realistic Thinking Gives You A Target and A Game Plan

Realistic thinking leads to excellence in leadership because it requires people to face reality. Since HOPE is not a strategy, you need to define the target and develop a game plan to hit the target. The decisions that matter the most in business are those that directly relate to your purpose. James Allen was correct when he wrote, “Until thought is linked with purpose, there is no intelligent accomplishment.”

Realistic Thinking Is A Catalyst for Change

People who rely upon hope for their success rarely make change a high priority. If you only have hope, you imply that achievement and success are out of your hands. It is now a matter of luck or chance. There is nothing like staring reality in the face to make a person recognize the need for change. Change alone does not bring growth, but you cannot have growth without change.

Realistic Thinking Provides Security

Any time you have thought through the worst that can happen and you develop contingency plans to meet it, you become more confident and secure. It is reassuring that you are unlikely to be surprised.

Realistic Thinking helps people to buy in to a leaders vision. A leader who is continually surprised by the unexpected soon looses credibility with their followers…

The best leaders ask realistic questions before casting vision. They ask questions like:

  • Is it possible?
  • Does this dream include everyone or just a few?
  • Have I identified and articulated the areas that will make this dream difficult to achieve?

Realistic Thinking Provides a Foundation to Build On

Thomas Edison observed, “The value of a good idea is in using it.” The bottom line is that it helps you to make an idea usable by taking away the “wish” factor. Most ideas and efforts never reach their intended results because they rely too much on what we wish rather than what is. You can’t build a building in midair, you need a strong foundation.

Realistic Thinking Is A Friend To Those In Trouble

If creativity is what you do when you are not afraid of failing, then reality is dealing with failure if it does happen. Realistic thinking gives you something concrete to fall back on during times of trouble.

Realistic Thinking Brings The Dream To Fruition

Novelist John Galsworthy wrote, “Idealism increases in direct proportion to one’s distance from the problem.” If you do not get close enough to a problem, you will never tackle it. If you do not take a realistic look at your dream and what it takes to accomplish it, you will never achieve it.


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Music: “Gratitude Mood” by David Arivett. You can learn more about his music by clicking on his name. THANKS DAVID!


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