Purposeful optimism unlocks opportunity

Tech and human-centric advancements mean there’s never been a better time to invest, and optimistic leaders are what the world needs, according to Sanlam Investments.

Purposeful optimism isn’t easy, especially in a time of pervasive negativity. But there are innumerable positive developments to celebrate. Tech and human-centric advancements mean there’s never been a better time to invest in opportunity – especially opportunities to make a real positive impact on the world.

Nersan Naidoo, Chief Executive: Sanlam Investments, believes purposeful optimism is a practical philosophy and process that opens minds and helps create healthy dialogue around innovation, possibilities and opportunity.

Importantly, this catalyses resilience, alongside other sustainable benefits:

  • A 2019 article in Harvard Business Review (HBR) shows a link between optimism and financial health. Author Michelle Gielan conducted studies showing that optimism was found to ‘propel positive action’ by promoting a solution-focused mindset
  • Gielan also conducted a study with Frost that showed optimists experience better financial health than pessimists
  • Several studies, including one by the University of Oklahoma, equate entrepreneurial optimism with successful business start-ups and growth
  • Scientific journal Nature published a study that shows optimists tend to think more creatively as they’re not limited by negative constraints
  • Another study in Psychological Science shows optimists tend to persevere despite setbacks.

‘Optimism becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because if you look hard enough, use enough innovation, and refuse to give up, you’ll ultimately enjoy the fruits of that positive thinking: in our case, new sources of alpha for our clients and the industry itself,’ Nersan says.

Optimism with purpose

Sydney Mbhele, Chief Executive: Brand at Sanlam, says there’s a rallying cry for businesses to be bastions of social good and enforcers of positive change. ‘We need to do what we can to re-anchor ourselves; to appreciate what we have while coming up with real solutions to the challenges South Africans face.

‘In 1994, we negotiated a new SA. Since then, we’ve come together many times to move this country to the next level of growth,’ he says.

As found in the HBR study, optimism instils a solution-focused mindset and propels positive action. For example, investing in Climate Fund Managers’ Climate Investor One debut investment vehicle means you help serve electricity to 13 million people, avoid the emission of 2 million tons of carbon dioxide and create 10 000 jobs, while making good financial returns. The rise of this kind of impact investing reflects a global optimism.

‘Within Sanlam Investments, we actively cultivate a dynamic culture of seeking out new opportunities, even in the face of adverse market conditions,’ Nersan says. ‘Now is the time to seize these. Now is the time to change the narrative. Now is the time to be a force for good.’

This article appeared in Business Live.