#1444 Think Negatively

To Create Powerfully

Today we’re going to wrap up our quick tour through Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture.

Let’s get straight to work.

It’s time to…


Here’s how Randy puts it: “Another way to be prepared is to think negatively. Yes, I’m a great optimist. But when trying to make a decision, I often think of the worst-case scenario. I call it ‘Eaten By Wolves Factor.’ If I do something, what’s the most terrible thing that could happen? Would I be eaten by wolves?”

He continues by saying: “One thing that makes it possible to be an optimist is if you have a contingency plan for when all hell breaks loose. There are a lot of things I don’t worry about because I have a plan in place if they do.”


When I read that passage, I knew exactly what parallel wisdom I’d go to...

Chris Hadfield talks about this in his great book, An Astronauts Guide to Life on Earth.

In fact, he has an ENTIRE CHAPTER in that book called “The Power of Negative Thinking” where he tells us pretty much exactly the same thing as Randy.

Here’s how he puts it in: “A lot of people talk about expecting the best but preparing for the worst, but I think that’s a seductively misleading concept. There’s never just one ‘worst.’ Almost always there’s a whole spectrum of bad possibilities. The only thing that would really qualify as *the* worst would be not having a plan for how to cope.”

Of course, Gabriele Oettingen would approve.

In her GREAT book Rethinking Positive Thinking, she scientifically confirms the power of this wisdom.

Note: If you haven’t read those Notes on her BRILLIANT book on the SCIENCE OF MAKING YOUR DREAM A REALITY, please do. (You’ll thank me!)

In short (as we’ve discussed MANY TIMES), it’s not enough to simply visualize your life unfolding perfectly. Gabriele tells us we need to “mentally contrast” that ideal vision with the obstacles that may get in the way of us attaining our goals.

Her process of WOOPing our hoped-for vision for the future against the harsh obstacles of reality is EXACTLY what Chris says: “Anticipating problems and figuring out how to solve them is actually the opposite of worrying: it’s productive.”

When we’re willing to rub our ideals up against reality, we can plan appropriately. THAT is what leads to a true, deep confidence because we know we’re ready to deal with whatever life throws at us.


That’s Today’s +1.

Let’s embrace the benefits of both POSITIVE and NEGATIVE thinking so we can tap into the power of truly WISE thinking.

Get clear on what you want.

Remember to WOOP!


Get to work!!


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