Not just any kind of pragmatism, mind you. I’m talking about the needlessly negative variety. For so many people, “I’m just being pragmatic” really boils down to, “I have an excuse to say no.”
Under the guise of pragmatism, people have a reason to say, “No, I can’t follow that dream. It’s not realistic. No, I can’t take that step. I have too many demands on my time. No, I can’t do that thing that energizes me, because I have too many practical concerns to think about.”
See the common theme? No, no, and no.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of pragmatism. When it is wielded in service of creating a life that energizes and inspires you, it can be an incredibly powerful tool. It can help identify obstacles and find a workable way past them.
It starts much the same as needlessly negative pragmatism. “Realistically, I can’t do this because if I do I’m going to run into this obstacle.” But then it takes it a step further. “OK, so what are some options that might be more realistic?”
See the difference? Positive pragmatism empowers you to move forward. Needlessly negative pragmatism is an excuse to stay stuck.
Try this: Next time you find yourself saying, “No, that’s not realistic,” (or some variation on that theme), ask yourself if that’s really true, or just an excuse to say no. Is there something to be learned from the obstacle you see to help you move forward? Are there options or alternatives you’re ignoring?
A little positive pragmatism can be a powerful thing.
After years as a professional malcontent, Curt Rosengren discovered the power of passion. As a speaker, author, and coach, Rosengren helps people create careers that energize and inspire them. His book 101 Ways to Get Wild About Work and his E-book The Occupational Adventure Guide offer people tools for turning dreams into reality. Rosengren's blog, The M.A.P. Maker , explores how to craft a life of meaning, abundance, and passion.