I am known for repeatedly making the call for positive leadership, to liberate our country’s incredible potential. What fascinates me is the criticism I receive — for my naivety, in light, it is said, of the challenges we face. I am not discounting the fact that we face real challenges. We do: GDP growth is at -0.7%; 50% of those 15-35 years old are jobless; we have a bloated public sector wage bill and a hefty budget deficit to fill; and tragic inequality. My plea for positivity is not in spite of these challenges, but because of them — and it is rooted in cold, hard science. The optimism paradox — the gap between private hope and public despair — is an intriguing idiosyncrasy explained by behavioural economics. On the one hand is our belief that in our personal lives our future will be better than our past, known as optimism bias. According to recent research from the Nobel prize-winning economist Angus Deaton, based on data collected on 1.7-million people across 166 countries fro...

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