Optimism & Innovation

Posted by in Performance Blog | January 4, 2017

SkyYesterday, as I took my seat on a flight from Boston to Atlanta, Delta’s Sky magazine caught my eye.  Driving Innovation was boldly broadcasted on the cover.  Perhaps I was still feeling the effects of New Year reflections, but my thought was “will this be a trend in 2017?”  Of course it will. Without innovation, there are no trends.  So if innovation leads to trends, what leads to innovation?

From that question I recalled a recently read study.  This study found a convincing link between innovation and optimism.  Specifically, the researchers found people “who hold optimistic attitudes have an increased sense of creative self-efficacy, which, in turn, increases their innovative behaviors” (Li & Wu, 2011, p. 126).  In other words, when we are optimistic, we tend to be more creative, and that leads us to be more innovative.

The study provided further insights worthy of note.  In addition to being more creative and innovative, the research found optimists:

a) expect positive outcomes,

b) confront setbacks with persistence despite the situational difficulties,

c) are cognitively flexible so they interpret undesirable events as promising openings and, thus, maintain positive expectations and confidence,

d) have more confidence and less anxiety when facing negative outcomes,

e) are eager for success.

There are a lot of benefits to being optimistic—a good thing to know in the New Year.


Li, C-H, Wu, J-J. (2011). The structural relationships between optimism and innovative   behavior: Understanding potential antecedents and mediating effects.  Creativity Research     Journal, 23(2), 119–128.


About the Author – Paul G. Schempp

Dr. Schempp, president of Performance Matters, Inc., is a professional speaker, coach and consultant. Paul has more than 25 years of experience in the fields of research, teaching and professional development. Individuals and organizations in business, education and sport have elevated their expertise and achieved exceptional performance by working with Dr. Schempp.

2 comments on “Optimism & Innovation

  1. Paul, a convincing link between innovation and optimism is on target. John Glenn, Marine tactical fighter pilot,Astronaut and Senator was a leader in ‘right stuff.’ If you have the ‘right stuff’(I believe that) you will have the positive mind-set to accept innovation to exceed what was judged impossible. Do it: it will produce positive results!

    • Paul G. Schempp on said:

      Great point about having the ‘right stuff’ to create a positive mind-set leading to innovations that exceed expectations Dwight! Appreciate your feedback. p.s. I’m a great admirer of John Glenn.

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