Friday, December 4, 2009

How Do You Handle Life's Difficult Moments?

What I write is often related to what has transpired in my life. I don't think I'm alone in this dynamic as a writer. You can't squeeze an orange and get grapefruit juice; if you squeeze an orange you can only get orange juice. To be authentic, a writer expresses what they know, what lies within.

Sometimes in life we get kicked in the ass. We think that we have it all, only to wake up one day with our nose in the dirt, reeling and prostrate in a cloud of dust.

A small tree in a damp, cold forest waits, looking for the light. When it catches a glimpse of sunshine, when a ray of the sun filters through the canopy, it grows toward it. That's why you can take a walk in the jungle and see thousands of trees less than a foot in diameter and over fifty feet high. They grow toward the sun. They must to survive. We are no different. We are always making the choice between living and decaying; between growth and death. We can remain cowering in the dirt and protect our wounds, or we can stand up, splash some water on our face, wash off the dirt, and live again. The choice is always ours.

I hope you will enjoy this, and that it will cause you to pause, to take a short break from your busy schedule, to reflect on your own life, and to choose growth. Please make a comment and share your thoughts. After you click on the link, scroll down below the sunset picture and start there:


Anthony Silard is the president of The Global Leadership Institute and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday each week in your inbox and a free copy of Anthony's new audio CD, "The Surprising Source of Your Passion", enter your email here (1-step only).

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Message of Thanks-giving

One of the first personal development or “self-help” books I ever read was Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson. One of Carlson’s messages that always stuck with me was to be grateful in our high moments and graceful in our low moments. It made a lot of sense to me for a long time.

I have come to believe something different: we can be grateful in all of our moments. God is always sending us one of two things: happiness and learning. Sometimes, out of nowhere, a feeling of ineffable joy sweeps over us: we don’t know where it has come from; it is just there; all we can do is feel it. Thinking about it too much dispels it. At other times, we feel sad, or depressed, or anxious, or insecure, or afraid. If we try to deny these emotions, we become half-people, the living dead. Many of us are dissipating our vitality trying to accomplish the impossible: to live within only a small subset of the range of human emotions.

If we can choose, instead, to recognize our holistic presence as human beings, and embrace the entire range of what we feel, we will live a much healthier life. Ironically, we will also experience much more happiness. Yes, that’s what I’m saying: by allowing ourselves to feel what many refer to as “negative” emotions, we will experience much more joy in our lives.

Why? Because it’s not our emotions that cause problems, but our attachment to them. When we can sit with any emotion that we feel without attaching to it, we can understand what it has shown up to teach us, and then move forward toward our higher life goals – which may be to express our love for others daily, or to seek truth, or to be kind and present toward our loved ones, or to continually strive to be the person we want to become. The emotion – regardless of whether you label it “positive” or “negative” – can be either an obstacle or a traveling companion on your journey toward the life you have imagined. It is always your choice.

Spinoza sagely remarked: “Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering once we form a clear and precise picture of it.” When you sit with any emotion – whether it is anxiety, stress, fear, jealousy or envy; or elation, strength, certainty or courage – long enough to reap the lesson it has shown up to provide, yet not so long that you become the emotion (and subservient to its capricious dictates) you prevent it from determining the direction of your life, like the Wizard of Oz behind the magic curtain. In the end the diminutive figure calling the shots was revealed by the simple act of the least likely candidate, Toto, pulling back the curtain. Similarly, the key to your continually and seamlessly moving forward on your journey, day after day, is to just pull back the curtain, embrace what is truly within you in that moment, and then continue on your path – whether that means treading cheerfully down the yellow-brick road or stepping outside its confines and whacking through the bush toward another destination of your choosing.

Our collective road has taken us to where we are today: Thanksgiving. Our nation’s day of appreciation. It is a confusing holiday. Are we to be thankful for our loved ones, our friends, our careers, the little things in life we take for granted, or to Native Americans for generously showing the European settlers how to till the land? In its essence, this holiday is a homage to the generosity of Native Americans before they were unceremoniously decimated and relegated to arid, inferior land by the European settlers.

The long relationship between the Native Americans and European-Americans – from its beginnings to the present day – is bittersweet. Malcolm X, in a speech at Harvard Law School, shared his take on the ‘discovery’ of America by a white explorer who never even landed on U.S. soil:

Here’s a man who discovered absolutely nothing…He was looking for India and made a mistake. He thought that he had discovered India and called those people Indians, after the word indigo, a Latin word which means blue-black…Then Columbus landed on this island, San Salvador, and told the people, “I have discovered you in the name of the Queen of Spain,” which is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. How can you discover a human being? Somebody’s about to have dinner and you intrude, and he says to you – he’s polite enough to say – “Look, come in and partake of my meal. Sit down and share what we have; it’s not much, but we’ll share it with you.” And then you stand up and say, “I discover you! You are now discovered, you are Indian.” They must have looked at each other wondering, like, where did this fool come from.

There has been a lot of confusion, unnecessary belligerence and cruelty in our nation’s history. Does this mean we should not be proud of who we are? I don’t think so. It means that, in the same way that we can be honest with ourselves in acknowledging any emotion we feel and then using it as a springboard to move toward something greater, we can do the same with how we feel about our past, including its most sordid periods. We can love every aspect of ourselves – as human beings, as a community, as a nation, and, yes, as a world – because each is a part of who we are. To deny any part would be to deny the whole.

Yet as we embrace our past we can simultaneously learn from any part of it that is no longer aligned with who we want to become. By recognizing both what has come before us and the true characteristics of who we are, right now – including our collective emphasis on work, money, power and self-gain, often at the expense of love, compassion and community; and our new social norms of uber-rapid communication through which we are over-connecting and under-relating to each other – we can prevent the characteristics of our culture that no longer fit with who we want to become from continuing to propel us on the yellow-brick road toward a Pleasantville where the capacity to feel is absent. We can make other, less conventional choices about where we are going – as human beings, as a community, as a nation and as an increasingly interdependent world.

So on this special day, let’s be thankful for every part of our past, of who we are. Let’s recognize every emotion that we feel and every event that has transpired – in our personal lives and in our collective history – as a signpost that, if we are only willing to slow down from our busy lives enough to read, will help each of us to find the right path forward, and will help us to come together and find our right path as a collective whole.

You can do your part: Think about what has transpired in your life over the past year. Which moments brought you the most happiness? Smile to them with gratitude. Now think about the moments in which you were the most uncomfortable – the moments that brought you pain, and in so doing compelled you to do something differently, to grow. Smile to them also with gratitude.

Now think about what makes you feel the happiest that has taken place outside of your home – in your community, the nation or the world at large. Then reflect on what makes you feel the most uncomfortable in the way certain ethnic or cultural groups are being treated, or the way we are treating the environment. Whatever makes you feel uncomfortable and ashamed, love that feeling within you: it is the seed of change. Cultivate it as you do your happiness.

Shakespeare once wrote: “There is no such thing as good or bad; our thinking makes it so.” Smile to every part of you, and every part of our history, with no trace of judgment whatsoever. Embrace with gratitude the joy and the learning that show up at your doorstep every day. This will bring forth an unconditional love within you that will spill out into every area of your life, causing you to bring joy into the lives of others and to live on purpose.

That is a lot to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving.


Anthony Silard is the president of The Global Leadership Institute and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday each week in your inbox and a free copy of Anthony's new audio CD, "The Surprising Source of Your Passion", enter your email here (1-step only).

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Leadership Webinar Opportunity at All-Time Low Cost

The challenges of leading in a difficult economy are not easy: boosting flagging employee morale amidst expense reductions and layoffs, maintaining the current budget, considering new business development opportunities with less access to capital, and keeping a semblance of work-life balance when the pressures to work late and keep the company afloat are that much greater.

The Executive Leadership Institute recognizes the need of the executives we coach for a low-cost professional development opportunity that allows them to refine their leadership skills, step off stage and onto the balcony to learn some new leadership strategies (and consider how they are leading while on stage) without breaking the bank. Here is our response: a cutting-edge Leadership Webinar Series offered at an all-time low cost:

Leadership Webinar Series

There will be three webinars in this series. All sessions will take place on Wednesdays from 2 - 3 pm EST (New York time). Anyone from any time zone/country with high-speed internet can participate. The dates and session topics are as follows (Click on any session topic for a description):

Date: Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Session Topic: The Characteristics of an Effective Leader

Date: Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Session Topic: Leading in Challenging Economic Times

Date: Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Session Topic: The Flexible Leader* (Managing People: How to Find the Right Balance Between Flexibility and Control)

*Includes chapter on Flexibility from Anthony Silard's upcoming book on leadership, Your Control Center: Discover the Ultimate Driver of Enduring Success.

The cost: $35 per session or $85 for the 3-webinar series.

Click here to learn more about this unique low-cost leadership training opportunity.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

'Entourage' and the American Dream

About two years ago, my sister turned me on to the HBO series ‘Entourage,’ and I became a quick fan. At first, I thought it held my attention because it was a male version of ‘Sex and the City’: it was entertaining to see Hollywood from the inside and watch a likeable guy from Queens try to make his way in tinseltown. After watching more episodes, I realized a much deeper message was holding my attention.

Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier), the protagonist, is an A-list actor struggling to “make it” in Hollywood. As a writer and leadership coach trying to make my way in two very competitive industries, I initially thought I related to Vince on this level – the pursuit of the American dream. As it turns out, I’m not the only one: ‘Entourage’ is President Obama’s favorite TV show, and he even reschedules important meetings to get his fix. At first, I figured Obama and I shared this drive for beating the odds to become A Number One, Top of the List, King of the Hill. I thought this was our solidarity, and the reason we both tuned into Vince’s next challenge, week after week (actually, I rent the DVDs rather than watch ‘Entourage’ on TV, and I must confess I’ve just finished the third season, so this article really applies to the first few years of the show).

A few weeks ago, I did a leadership conference for 80 sales directors titled “Success vs. Happiness.” The central quote I built the conference around was:

To live the life you love is Success.
To love the life you live is Happiness.

The evening after the conference, I watched another episode of ‘Entourage’ and it hit me: what intrigued me about the show was precisely what I was teaching – Vince has a burning passion to come out on top, but he’s not willing to sacrifice his values or his friends to do so. He has a clear, distinct set of values and will forego opportunities (e.g. movie roles) if they require him to abandon what he believes in.

Vince is also unwaveringly loyal to his friends, all of whom grew up with him in Queens (Executive Producer Mark Wahlberg – whose days as an up-and-coming actor provide the basis for the masterfully-written story-line by Doug Ellin – insisted on only casting actors who grew up in New York), and brings them along with him wherever he goes, sometimes at the price of short-term career gain. (It’s my guess that Obama relates to these guys because they are out of their element trying to navigate a new and complex environment, much as Obama has been doing his whole life, from growing up biracial and bicultural in Hawaii and Indonesia to going to law school in Cambridge to journeying into the belly of the beast to change the entrenched Washington power structure.)

Vince stands by his pizza-boy-cum-manager best friend Eric “E” Murphy (Kevin Connolly) through many of E’s foibles as he grows his sea legs and learns the cutthroat rules of Hollywood. Vince’s brother Johnny “Drama” (Kevin Dillon), a struggling actor who has never experienced anywhere near his level of success, and another childhood friend Salvatore “Turtle” (Jerry Ferrara), help Vince along in his career simply by offering moral support and being unflinchingly loyal to him, as he is to them.

The show’s most valued currency is also the glue that keeps the ‘Entourage’ together: trust. As is the case for any successful leader, Vince makes decisions based on who “has his back.” If anyone breaks this tacit code (such as when his caustic yet endearing agent, Ari – probably the wittiest and most well-acted character on television, played by Jeremy Piven, who has won three Best Supporting Actor Emmys for the role – is not straight with him), they’re out. Yet they may be permitted a return to grace, as Vince has a heart of gold and easily forgives those who trespass against him, which is why we like him so much. Vince’s forgiving nature is reminiscent of The Civil War president who forgave many of his generals for their missteps and allowed Southern states back into the Union with only 10 percent of their citizens taking an oath of loyalty.

‘Entourage’ has its detractors. Vince and the guys have developed commitment-avoidance into a highly refined art form, Drama and Turtle are happy enough to sleep with prostitutes when they hit a dry spell, and Ari is as aggressive with his wife as he is with his clients. Some people, such as a friend of mine who is struggling in his job, argue that Vince has an easier go at success because he has the resources to hire his best friends. While it’s true that the more successful you are the more you can choose who you work with, it’s also true that the more you choose who you work with the more successful you become. Why? Because you choose others who share your core values, and are more likely to build the lasting relationships on which any long-term initiative depends.

Yet here is the greatest lesson of ‘Entourage’ and the reason I decided to write this article: the model of success perpetuated by the series, while at first glance prototypical of the American Dream, is boldly countercultural in the third millenium. Vince wants to win, but not at the expense of having fun and being there for the people he cares about along the way. The show’s tag-line, Maybe you can have it all, actually says it all: you can have it all – success, happiness, work-life balance, and family and friends that care about you and grow with you – as long as you prevent your drive for success from getting in the way of your happiness.

One of our greatest historical icons for this type of leadership was Ernest Shackleton, the British navy captain whose voyage to Antarctica a century ago in the hopes of becoming the first to traverse the continent’s 1,800-mile distance by foot was derailed a thousand miles south of Buenos Aires when his ship became pickled in an iceberg.

Another English captain, Robert Scott, had set out to discover the South Pole two years before Shackleton’s voyage. Despite the protests of his men because the trip was taking longer than expected and there was a scarcity of rations, he insisted on continuing. Scott did in fact reach the South Pole in January 1912. He found a note there left thirty-five days earlier by Norway’s Roald Amundsen. Scott and all his men perished on the return journey.

Unlike Scott, Shackleton placed the safety of his crew first and foremost. He designed a meticulous daily schedule on the iceberg that included regular meal times, daily games and recreation – which created a semblance of order. Those with high egos he flattered; those who fell ill he personally nursed back to health; those who were easily bored he gave very clear tasks to complete. Shackleton built a library in an igloo, and held ‘parties’ during the long Arctic nights where his men wrote and read poetry.

As a result of Shackleton’s empathetic and inclusive leadership style, at a time of frequent deaths to scurvy and other diseases, he kept every single one of his twenty-eight crew members alive for over two years until they were rescued. Furthermore, every single man returned to England in good physical and mental health. Shackleton did not, in the end, achieve his goal of traversing Antarctica. That didn’t matter: his goal was never just to win, but to win “honorably and splendidly.”

Vincent Chase also refuses to win unless he does it honorably. He stands in juxtaposition to the modern American success model: the Lone Ranger, the go-it-alone rugged capitalist who will spare no one in their attempt to achieve their goals. The Enron execs, the Bernie Madoffs and the Wall Street titans who paid themselves 400 times what their service reps earned and then siphoned their bonuses from our tax dollars are our modern-day apparitions of Robert Scott. Their focus on status and financial gain was so singular that many of them became alienated from their friends, families and themselves in their relentless pursuit of the next thing. While they may have built a name for themselves, for most there was no one whom they hadn’t become estranged from to take pride in it; they earned a brittle, silent trophy to gaze at alone.

The American Dream has become, for many, the American Nightmare. In our Kurtzian drive to become successful – abetted by our laptops and crackberries and the spiritual isolation modern society wrecks upon those who fail to unhinge the shackles of the never-ending quest for task completion – we lose our capacity to relax and spend time with the people we care about; to laugh; to appreciate the little things that make life livable; to recover from vigorous activity and take vacations; to be involved in our community. In other words, we lose all the things that bring happiness.

There is a Mexican expression: “There is no point in living if you can’t feel your life.” When we focus on success at all costs, we lose our ability to feel. We gain material things yet we cannot feel or enjoy their presence. Why? We have lost sight of our presence.

Whenever Vince or one of his buddies faces a difficult challenge, they share it with another member of the ‘Entourage’. Sure, they are guys and share their deeper issues as guys tend to do – indirectly, with a few expletives and sexual references thrown in for good measure. But they get them out on the table. How many of us can say the same? And if we don’t have someone to talk to when the going gets tough, what use is our success? We’re stuck in auto-pilot chasing an award, yet we’re in the wrong contest.

How many of us even stop to eat a healthy breakfast with the people we care about, as Vince and his buddies do each morning? We pass up this and most of the other potentially human moments in our day in the hopes of achieving something greater. So what is waiting for us at the end of the tunnel? Few genuine friendships, a nasty divorce(s), little to no relationships with our kids (who, when we have our mid-life crisis and try to replenish those relationships, are likely to respond, “Who are you? You weren’t here when I needed you. Why should I now be here for you?”), money that generates more fear (of losing it) than joy (from spending it), and, last but not least, a trophy partner who understands us only as much as they need to.

When I observe President Obama’s relentless drive to make a name for himself: to be the president to finally provide universal health care, to reengineer America’s damaged reputation as global war-monger and playground bully, to revitalize an economy ravaged by a lack of government oversight of the housing and financial industries; and then I see one of those moments where he stops and brandishes that smile that instantly captivates a room, or makes a joke, or takes a week off to take his wife and kids to Martha’s Vineyard, or says “Hey guys, let’s work out these (perennial racial) differences over a beer,” I finally get it. I understand why he watches ‘Entourage’ each week, and the new brand of success he and Vincent Chase are propagating in this country.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Redefining Success: How to Prevent Popular Misconceptions about Success from Controlling Your Life

“There is no reality; only perception.” Shakespeare once wrote. If the sixteenth-century English bard was correct, then your perception creates your reality. The problem, then, when you are going through difficult times, is not that you are less successful, but that you perceive yourself as less successful. What if this were not the case? How would it affect the way you are experiencing your career and life right now?

Most of us tie our success to the results we bring in – how many contracts we sign, our income, the number of people who turn out to see us speak or teach, or return our calls, or buy our books or software or clothing designs. Over fifteen years of coaching thousands of Fortune 500 CEOs and senior executives has taught me that the relationship between a successful leader and the results he or she brings in is surprisingly counterintuitive.

The most successful leaders are concerned with results the way a swimmer is concerned with the finish line. If she keeps thinking about how far she still has to go and whether she will beat the competition, she will become easily overwhelmed and will under-perform. If she instead spends about two percent of her time lifting her head to make sure she is heading in the right direction, and the other 98 percent focused on the core processes that make her an excellent swimmer – how she moves her arms and legs, the techniques she has learned over a lifetime of training, the rhythm and energy she puts into every stride – she will reach the finish line before she is even aware of it.

When you spend most of your time thinking about the stock tickers on your screen, or whether the next deal will come through, or any of the other results you desire, you become the powerless child in the back seat constantly whining “How much further do we have to go?” You head down a never-ending road where your self-worth hinges on what you yield rather than who you are. You become like a mouse being chased by the cat of your own continually rising expectations.

As soon as you get the contract you’ve been aiming for, do you stop and say, “OK, now I can relax and feel good about myself. I got it!”? Maybe for a few hours, or possibly even a few days. But then the cat bares its frothy teeth once again, and you become preoccupied with the next result, which must be even greater for you to continue to feel worthy. Once again, you feel only as good as your last performance. Were this not the case – were a result to bring you lasting contentment – then you would be content right now, because you’ve already overcome many obstacles and achieved important results in your life!

The two greatest enemies of your progress are what you call ‘success’ and what you refer to as ‘failure’. The first breeds complacency, the second self-judgment. They also shroud the truth about success, which flouts conventional wisdom: Success doesn’t come from aiming at success. Success comes from doing what you’re passionate about to the best of your ability.

When you focus your attention on status, money, approval or a promotion, you surrender your power. Why? Because you allocate your mental space to these methods that others use to award you for how you act toward them, instead of how you act toward them. You concentrate your mind on what you receive from others rather than what you give. Even a single act of giving fully from your heart, mind and soul will enable you to realize this is the only true reward.

Besides (and more spiritual reasons aside) you have absolutely no control over what you receive from others. It’s entirely in their hands, and depends on many factors outside of your control such as their preferences, moods and the shifting winds of popular sentiment. As Lincoln once said when asked to review a book: “People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like.”

Yet while you have no control over what you receive, you have 100 percent control over what you give. Once you make this mental shift, you will finally operate within your locus of power: you can always give more, or, even better, apply your learning from the past to expand, improve and better target how you give. Further, no matter what is going on in the external world, when you concentrate on how you can better give to your customers and loved ones there is always something important to do with your time.

Examples of companies accessing this power are all around us – especially when their customers have fewer resources in an economic downturn and, hence, greater needs. Instead of sitting around and lamenting their decreased revenues (what they receive), they balance their passion for selling their products or services with compassion for the evolving needs of their customers (and how they give to serve those needs). Hyundai, for example, recently created a policy that allows any customer who is laid off within one year of purchasing a new car to return it without penalty. Sears has revived its Layaway program so its hard-pressed customers can purchase its products in installments.

Shifting your focus to how you give to others doesn’t mean that wanting a good job, a beautiful house, approval from others or a position of influence is wrong. It’s not wanting results that causes the problem – it’s attaching to your wanting, and attaching to the results. By all means set ambitious goals. Draw a vivid mental picture of what you want to bring into your life. See it, smell it, feel it. Visualize yourself taking strong strides in its direction and reaching it. But then let go of your desired destination, put your head back in the water, and maintain a laser-like focus on continuously enhancing how you give to others to move toward it. Like the swimmer focusing on her technique and effort, you will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you arrive.


Anthony Silard is the president of The Global Leadership Institute and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday each week in your inbox and a free copy of Anthony's new audio CD, "The Surprising Source of Your Passion", enter your email here (1-step only).

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Staying Positive in Challenging Times

No matter who you are or what you do, the current economic situation most likely has your feelings fluctuating from anxious and fearful to unstable and depressed. There are very real causes for alarm. A seventy-year old money manager ejects clients from meetings for asking too many questions and siphons billions of their dollars from the economy. Poaching lenders offer rickety mortgages to people who lack the resources to sustain them. Huge public companies fudge their earnings reports to appease and allure stockholders. Worst of all, there is no government oversight to prevent these and other means of relieving people of their hard-earned cash.

This was the status quo, what we considered normal, as recently as six months ago. As long as the dollars rolled in, and we could go out to dinner whenever we wanted, and take the vacations we desired, and afford the best schools for our children, most of us turned a blind eye. Then the illness in our economy continued to fester until its tentacles slithered around each of our lives. It wasn’t until we each personally felt its grip that we awoke from our slumber.

After not qualifying in 2006 for his first tournament since becoming a professional golfer nine years earlier, Tiger Woods was asked what he was going to do. He replied: “Practice.” Like Tiger, each of us can also “fail wisely.” The word ‘failure’, in fact, is a failure as a concept. It makes you feel badly about yourself, when in fact it’s an opportunity for learning – which makes it a critical ingredient for success. Semantics are important here, because they affect the way we think. While the word ‘failure’ makes you feel like you’re on a dead-end street, the word ‘challenge’ puts a fire under your belly to seek an alternate route to your goals. It’s also ironic that the word ‘challenge’ literally contains the word ‘change’ within it.

We now have a fire under our collective belly. We must introduce new practices into our economy so we can be successful again. This is nothing new. There have always been crises, and they will always be a key ingredient in our life experience. To survive them, good civic-minded citizens always pick up the pieces and press on. This is what we did after 9-11, when we leveraged the learning from that horrific event to heighten public security. The impetus for FDR’s New Deal, which introduced a social safety net for low-income Americans, was the poignant suffering the lack of that net produced in The Great Depression. In both of these critical periods in our history, the crisis became the catalyst. It signaled the need to transform a problematic status quo into a new, more resilient and secure status quo.

There is a parallel to our personal lives: when you look back on just about any major crisis you’ve experienced – whether it was a messy breakup, or a protracted feeling of depression, or fear-induced anxiety that left you feeling paralyzed, or being fired from a job that you really cared about – that crisis helped you discover something under-developed within yourself that you needed to work on. No crisis, no catalyst, no significant life change.

“But how can I stay positive when I may not have a job in six months?” I have been asked frequently over the last few months by some of the CEOs and executives I coach. First of all, what’s the alternative? I don’t think you want to go there. Second, being positive tests your resolve. You only know how strong a dam is when there’s water trying to push it over. If you want to integrate any value you hold dear into your character – including being positive – then you must practice it in good times and bad, rain or shine, regardless of the current state of your job or the stock tickers floating across your screen.

Having a positive outlook underwrites your happiness. Both stem from appreciating what you have rather than focusing on what you don’t have. And there is always something to appreciate if you are only willing to step off the treadmill you’re on long enough to take a look around. Fewer customers may free up your time to diversify the products you offer and develop higher-touch strategies to build a more loyal customer base for the future. Less time on the job may mean more time to reconnect with your loved ones. Being abruptly thrown off what you considered your track to career success may give you the time to question whether you were running in the right lane in the first place.

Find something to be positive about each day while simultaneously learning from the adversity you are currently experiencing, and you will find a better path forward. If we all rise to this collective challenge, we will build an economy that is not only robust but founded on sound practices. Also, and just as important, we will enjoy life a whole lot more.


Anthony Silard is the president of The Global Leadership Institute and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday each week in your inbox and a free copy of Anthony's new audio CD, "The Surprising Source of Your Passion", enter your email here (1-step only).


Welcome to the Character-based Leadership blog. This blog will enable you to learn more about leadership and refine your own personal leadership style. We welcome topic submissions and having guest bloggers.