Why Irrational Optimism Makes So Much Sense

Have you seen the More Cowbell sketch from Saturday Night Live? It’s more than funny- it’s a metaphor for a successful work life. Everyone has at least one cowbell — it’s your unique, profitable talent people pay you for or your company’s unique offering. It’s something people have a fever for. When you discover it and give those people a ton of it, you gain success and happiness for both yourself and others. It’s a win-win.

A cowbell is simultaneously something you love doing and something other people really want as well (although, as we’ll see, you still will have detractors and critics). A cowbell creates joy for you and other people. It makes them yell for more. They can’t get enough.

Confidence Is Contagious

Confidence is contagious. So is depression. Some people’s cowbells include incredible confidence and positivity. Even if it’s not yours, you will do better in life and career if you believe in yourself. Do whatever it takes to make that happen.

Garrison knows a guy who went from the mail room to CEO by talking nice about people behind their backs. Try that out!

Is Hope Too Big A Risk?

One of the most valuable takeaways from the world of finance is that the biggest risks create the biggest profits. To win big, you have to play big. Those who risk the most win the most.

Brian believes that confidence and hope is so important that you should do whatever you need to do in order to have it. Some people do religion or spirituality. Some people drink green tea. Some take antidepressants. It doesn’t matter what it is. Without hope and confidence, everything you do will be at least 30% crappier. You won’t do it with your full faculties. Your skill won’t be accessible. People won’t respond with excitement. Do whatever it takes to feel positive, then do your best work.

The only thing you have to lose from being irrationally optimistic is you might be disappointed sometimes. But there is so much to gain, it’s worth it!

Get Into The Fun Flow

If you aren’t familiar with the concept of flow, let’s return to some ideas put forth by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Mihaly is important to the Cowbell Principle in two ways. He defined creativity really simply as the combination of two old things in a new way. And, more important to the current discussion, he defined flow, which is the fun and the dopamine release and the “time flies” perception that you experience when you’re doing something you love and are good at. We don’t have any proof, but we think it’s good for your mental and physical well-being, and of course you get all the benefits of the cowbell principle itself.

The main reason Brian doesn’t mind giving up weekends for work — prefers it, actually — is because he loves what he does. As Steve Jobs said, “It’s more fun to be a pirate than to join the Navy.”

This post is an excerpt adapted by Brian Carter from the forthcoming book The Cowbell Principle: Career Advice On How To Get Your Dream Job And Make More Money, by Brian Carter and Garrison Wynn. Brian and Garrison will be giving away a limited number of digital copies at launch time. To get notified when they’re available, sign up at http://thecowbellprinciple.com/getnotified