Climb Every Mountain

‘The difference between a mountain and a molehill is your perspective’ – Al Neuharth

Recently the husband of a friend of mine climbed to Everest Base Camp. He literally climbed a mountain! Whilst most of us will never do anything as ambitious as that, I do think that the quote above is very true. Whilst he looked at the task ahead, prepared for it and admirably achieved his goal, the difference between him and many of us is that he believed he could, so he did.

Mountain or molehill? (Photo by Chris Czermak on

Of course, it doesn’t need to be an actual mountain or a physical task, it could be an assignment at work or college, something indoors you’ve been putting off for ages, or maybe a disagreement with a friend or loved one. To one person it is a huge problem, but for another it is a minor bump in the road which can easily be dealt with.

How we look at things, our perspective, really does affect how we deal with the situation. It is partly to do with the optimistic/pessimistic personality types. The person who is optimistic is confident that they can deal with the problem or task or that, even if they can’t, that it isn’t the end of the world, and they won’t spend too much time stressing about it. The more pessimistic person will consider all the pitfalls and dwell on what could go wrong and what would happen in that scenario Which is right? Well, they both have their advantages and disadvantages.

‘There is no difference between a pessimist who says, ‘It’s all over, don’t bother trying to do anything, forget about voting, it won’t make a difference’ and an optimist who says ‘Relax, everything is going to turn out fine’. Either way, the results are the same. Nothing gets done’ – Yvon Chouinard

Thinking it through (Photo by Nicholas Githiri on

The pessimist will have thought through everything, including all the potential mishaps and disasters which could occur. When all the pitfalls they thought about don’t happen, they are pleasantly surprised and happy that things worked out better than they might otherwise have done. Of course, if one of those disasters they thought about does indeed occur, then they are prepared and have a plan of action in place. The downside is that they can spend a considerable amount of time dwelling on the negatives and giving themselves unnecessary stress and worry for no real reason.

The optimist on the other hand, will be aware of some of the same potential mishaps but won’t dwell on them, preferring to think about the positive outcome. They generally don’t stress about any potential problems and go into the situation believing that the outcome will be a positive one. The downside of this personality type can be that they are unprepared if something does go wrong which then takes them by surprise. Although of course, this then presents a new scenario which, again, they believe will work out OK.

‘I don’t believe in pessimism. If something doesn’t come up the way you want, forge ahead. If you think it is going to rain, it will’ – Clint Eastwood

Where we sit on this pessimist/optimist scale will determine how we approach problems in life. Me, I’m more in the optimistic camp, although I am prone to pessimism in certain situations (health anxiety for example). I believe being optimistic is a good thing but, of course, the pessimist among us will say that their approach is the better one because they are fully prepared for any eventuality. Maybe the ideal is to be generally optimistic with a healthy dose of pessimism thrown in?

‘Optimism means better than reality; pessimism means worse than reality. I’m a realist’ – Margaret Atwood

Smile (Photo by Kat Smith on

So the tiny tweak this week is to think about our natural behaviour and whether it serves us well. If we are strongly in one camp or the other, is there any benefit in learning from our more positive or negatives friends, family and colleagues?

Have you ever been caught out by being optimistic and being taken by surprise by a negative situation that you perhaps could have prepared for? Or maybe you’re a pessimist and you’d love to be more positive. What’s your experience, I’d love to know!

Until next time xx

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