“I think I can. I think I can.”
This is the mantra of the Little Blue Engine in the children’s classic, The Little Engine That Could. She comes across a broken down engine who was carrying a load of “very good things” to the boys and girls in the village on the other side of the mountain.
They asked her, “Won’t you please pull us to the other side of the mountain?” But the Little Blue Engine had never been over the mountain and only pulled cars in the train yard.
“And she thought of the good little boys and girls on the other side of the mountain who would have no toys and no wholesome food unless she helped.”
Even though she had never done something, she decided to try.
In the face of uncertainty and the unknown, she tries. This is what makes an entrepreneur different from the rest of the world. Without having 100% certainty of success, she is confident and hopeful in her ability to innovate and her potential for making an impact. At VentureLab, that is how we define optimism.
An entrepreneur with optimism
This is the story of all entrepreneurs. Take 17-year-old Victoria for example. She noticed some of her friends would choose not to wear their glasses during class because they didn’t feel confident in the way they looked while wearing them.
Her idea is to remove the stigma around wearing glasses by making them cool and meaningful by adding charms, similar to a charm bracelet. Even though she had never done something like this before, she decided to try.
She applied for and joined our VentureLab Spark Mentoring Program, which offered her materials to start on her business idea!
Check out her pitch video:
Having the optimism and courage to start is one thing, but what about during the process when the mountain is the steepest? As The Little Blue Engine struggles to pull the heavy load up the mountain, she repeats to herself, “ I think I can. I think I can.”
As Victoria started on her project with her new materials and faced challenges, she said: “I began to work on the glasses this weekend and have built a prototype. I love how they came out and am hopeful that they can still improve! I did come across some difficulties (like how the little hoops were really small and would often slip out of my hands and get lost before I could solder them) but the good thing is that I was able to find solutions!”
Her optimism is on full display as she is hopeful in her ability to innovate and improve. Her empathy led her to action. Her optimism fuels her to the top mountain.
Eventually, with great effort, the Little Blue Engine makes it to the top of the mountain and delivers the load to the children of the village: “And the Little Blue Engine smiled and seemed to say as she puffed steadily down the mountain, ‘I thought I could. I thought I could. I thought I could. I thought I could’.”
At VentureLab, we know you can.
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Optimism and growth mindset
Optimism is also an essential part of growth mindset. It’s the ability to confront a challenge and say, “I can’t do this, YET. But with practice, I will!” This isn’t always easy to do. It requires a level of self confidence in order to be vulnerable while learning something new. Learn more about how optimism and growth mindset work together in our prior blog post, “3 Ways to Nurture a Growth Mindset.”