Just How Positive Should We Be?

 Posted by at 10:06 am
Mar 102012

I’m a fan of Scott Levitt’s Tuesday Tactics Newsletter… and in a recent issue he led with this quote from Gil Stern:

Both optimists and pessimists contribute to our society. The optimist invents the airplane and the pessimist the parachute.

He ends his thought-provoking column with the recommendation that we shouldn’t jump out of a plane expecting to find a parachute on the way down.

Scott is at least alluding to the real estate market because at least indirectly it’s the business he’s in. I just have to support his plea for “realistic optimisim.”

There’s been a tendency recently to encourage the power of positive thinking (which is not to be underestimated)–especial among real estate types. You’ll see the campaigns on television… “it’s a great time to buy!” and you’ll hear it from those who seem to think that emphasizing the positive will automagically make things better.

Personally, I’m reminded of the the observation “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.”

The real estate market is not great–that’s about as positive as I’m willing to be at this point on that subject. But I agree with Scott on another point. Belief in our own ability to assess situations and overcome problems is where optimism is best deserved and applied.

So if I challenge the press releases indicating positive trends, I’m not being negative. As I’ve said before, the market doesn’t need to control us and we, in fact, determine the market–individually and collectively.

I guess it’s okay to wish for a horse, but in the meantime it makes sense to keep walking in the direction we want to travel. It’s probably okay to wish upon a star too, but we might also try catching one.