It’s a fun word for an bad idea. Hard to say — and even think — without smiling. Try.
What’s it mean? “Preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true.”1 In other words, wishful thinking.
If you wish hard enough, anything will come true, right? That’s the lesson we all learned as children when we put our hopes in falling stars, birthday candles, and wishbones.
But like other popular childhood beliefs, the more we experienced of the world, the more that dream faded.
In politics, wishful thinking creates easy targets. Make an outrageous statement or misstatement, especially if proof is lacking or suspect, and your opponents will pounce mercilessly.
Wishful thinking also is a peril for the rest of us — individuals, businesses and non-profits who are in an undesirable spotlight, or may be thrust there.
Blindly hoping for the best may make you feel nice. But it’s a bad strategy. Always. When the best doesn’t happen, you will fall harder and the damage will be greater.
It’s far better to dream up the darkest scenarios (realistically, of course).
Problem: You and your business partner no longer agree on the organization’s vision going forward.
Blind hope: They stop whatever they’re doing, admit you’re right, and say they’re sorry. You both live happily every after.
Darkest scenarios: They continue to challenge and undermine your authority. Or your once-successful organization collapses.
Problem: Insensitive supervisor sexually harasses an employee.
Blind hope: The employee doesn’t get upset and forgives the supervisor. Everything is hunky-dory.
Darkest scenarios: The employee takes to the Internet and ruins the reputation of the organization claiming it condones this behavior by looking the other way. Or they sue you for everything you’re worth. Or both.
Be ready. Because when the worst does occur, it will be furious. If it never happens, then you can relax and breathe easier.
1.Truthiness was crowned by Merriam-Webster as its made-up Word of the Year in 2006, a year after it was coined by Stephen Colbert to mock President George W. Bush. (Another Bushism — “decider,” used as a synonym for decision-maker — was Word of the Year in 2004.)
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