The Risk/Optimism Seesaw


Tom Corley boats - crop

I was putting the final touches on my latest book yesterday. The editor wanted me to include some citations regarding some of the statistics I referenced in the book. One of those statistics related to optimism. The stat was:

70% of the people you run into in life are pessimistic and only 30% are optimistic.

There are a lot of variables that go into the self-made millionaire stew. Optimism is one of the most important variables. So too is a high tolerance for risk, which is only possible when you believe in yourself. The risk I’m talking about is calculated risk. This is very different from reckless risk, the type of risk most failures in life take. Optimism and calculated risk are joined at the hip. Your tolerance for risk will only be as great as your level of optimism. High risk tolerance requires high optimism. Low risk tolerance is caused by low optimism, also known as pessimism. Risk, however, can push you to the limit. When things are not going well, this risk can cause enormous stress. The only thing to make that risk tolerable is optimism. It’s like a seesaw. The level of your optimism balances out the level of calculated risk you are willing to take.

Elon Musk is perhaps the best modern day example of someone who was willing to take enormous calculated risk, putting everything he had on the line. His over the top optimism made that possible. He used it to inspire everyone he came into contact with. The investors, employees, the government, even NASA took risks others would find intolerable. And boy did they all need that over the top optimism. At the end of 2008, Musk and all of his companies were on the verge of outright bankruptcy. His Falcon 1 rocket had failed to reach orbit for the third time in early August, 2008. He had gone through most of his $223 million plus he had gone through most of the hundreds of millions venture capitalists and the government had invested in SpaceX and Tesla. Everything hinged on that fourth flight in September, 28 2008. If it too failed, it was over. Only it didn’t fail. The first privately built rocket made orbit. Musk was able to cobble together enough money to get them through the end of December, 2008. On December 28, 2008 NASA awarded SpaceX with a $1.6 billion contract.

The rest, as they say is history. Today, Musk is estimated to be worth $10 billion. His companies are changing the world. What saved the day for Musk was optimism. He, and the people he surrounded himself with, were infected by his optimism. They were all willing to devote their lives and their money to his cause. Musk made them believe they could change the world. the greater your optimism, the greater your tolerance for risk. Those with the most optimism are willing to take the most risk. High optimism, when combined with a high tolerance for risk, is what turns ordinary people into millionaires and even billionaires.



Be Sociable, Share!
Thomas C. Corley About Thomas C. Corley

Tom Corley understands the difference between being rich and poor: at age nine, his family went from being multi-millionaires to broke in just one night, due to a catastrophic fire that destroyed his Dad's thriving business. For fourteen years they struggled with poverty. There were eleven in Tom's family, and they lived in constant fear of losing their home.

Driven by the desire to unlock the secrets to success and failure, Tom spent five years studying the daily activities of 233 rich people and 128 poor people. He discovered there was an immense difference between the habits of the rich and the poor. During his research he identified over 300 daily activities that separated the “haves” from the “have nots.” Tom decided to write a book to share what he learned. That book, Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals (1st Edition), went on to become an Amazon Bestseller in the United States forty times over a three year period. To give you some perspective, in order to be a true Amazon Bestseller in the United States, where you actually receive a specific Bestseller designation from Amazon, you need to be in the top 100 of all books sold by Amazon in the United States in a given day. Rich Habits did that for nearly thirty straight days, rising as high as #7, eclipsing such Bestselling authors such as Stephen Covey, Robert Kiyosaki and J.K. Rowlings. Imagine that - an unknown, first-time, self-published author selling more books than J.K. Rowlings!

Tom now travels the world, sharing his Rich Habits and motivating audiences at industry conferences, corporate events, universities, multi-level marketing group events, and global sales organizations’ presentations and finance conferences. He has even spoken on the same stage with famous entrepreneurs and personal development experts, such as Sir Richard Branson, Robin Sharma, Dr. Daniel Amen, and many others.

Tom has shared his insights on various national and international network, cable, and Internet television programs such as CBS Evening News, NBC News, Yahoo Financially Fit,, India TV, Australia, and a host of others. He has been interviewed on many prestigious nationally syndicated radio shows, including the Dave Ramsey Show, Marketplace Money, and WABC.

Tom has been featured in numerous print magazines—such as Money magazine, Inc. Magazine, SUCCESS Magazine, Entrepreneur magazine, Fast Company magazine, More magazine, Epoca Magazine (Brazil’s largest weekly) and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine—and various online publications, including USA Today, CNN, MSN Money,,, and the Huffington Post. Tom is a frequent contributor to Business Insider,, and a few other media outlets.

National publicity has garnered international media attention for Tom and his Rich Habits research spanning 23 countries. Broadcast media, online publications, and television throughout Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, the United Kingdom, and Central and South America have shared his powerful message.

In an effort to help parents, grandparents, teachers and adults become success mentors to the younger generation, Tom released his second book, Rich Kids: How to Raise Our Children to be Happy and Successful in Life in 2014. This book was the self-help category winner of the 2015 New York Book Festival and Runner-up in the prestigious 2015 Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards Contest. In 2016 Tom released his third book, Change Your Habits, Change Your Life. This book provides the latest science on habit change as well as more of Tom's unique research on the specific habits that helped transform 177 ordinary individuals into self-made millionaires.

Besides being an author, Tom is also a CPA, CFP, and hold a master’s degree in taxation. As president of Cerefice and Company, CPAs, Tom heads one of the premier financial firms in New Jersey.
Phone Number: 732-382-3800 Ext. 103.
Email Tom
| Download Media Kit

Speak Your Mind