Companies and managers that are wildly optimistic about their potential tend to achieve greater things than those with more moderate expectations, says INSEAD professor Gilles Hilary. That's because workers strive to reach the stretch goals they're set. "If you don’t suffer from over-optimism, your ultimate result is 10. If you suffer from optimism, you think it’ll be 20, and you work hard and you get 15," Hilary says.

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