Everyone has bad days. Things go wrong. That’s life. As the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining and usually we have a lot of reasons to look on the bright side of things. As the leader in your organisation, the silver lining is more than just being eternally cheerful and happy.

It extends to a positive outlook on life that endures even in the toughest times. It is having enough faith in our capabilities and enough self-esteem to enable you to navigate through the roughest roads, even though it seems to be an endless journey.

I came across a short story from “You Don’t Need a Title to be a Leader” by Mark Sanborn, about twin boys were born to two happy parents. The twins look alike in so many ways, but as they grow the parents notice a marked difference in the outlook each twin has on life. The first twin sees a rainy cloud under the sunniest sky, he always perceives things negatively. Regardless of what happened, he was always gloomy. The other twin is exactly the opposite as he always looks on the bright side of things. He is happy and could always find a silver lining under the darkest clouds. The parents were worried about their sons’ outlook on life so they decided to conduct a bold experiment. One Christmas, they give each twin their presents.  A new bike, train set and wonderful toys were given to the son with the negative attitude. While the other son, who sees things positively, was given a pile of horse manure.

On Christmas morning, the boy who perceives things negatively was led to a room full of gifts. Instead of being delighted with all the toys he had received, he complained, “The bike would just get soiled if I used it and the other toys might break if I play with them”. On the other hand, the other twin shouted with glee upon seeing the pile of manure.

Shocked, the parents asked him in disbelief, “Why are you so excited?”

“With all this manure, there’s got to be a pony in here somewhere!” he replied.

In business and in life, there are circumstances we cannot completely control.  Every setback has a hidden valuable lesson and the challenge for us as leaders is to ‘search for the pony’ with sound optimism. This will help us gain a better perspective on things and start living a happier and healthier life.

Rather than getting upset or blaming someone else when things go wrong, we are able to ‘search for the pony’ in the situation. Please share with us your stories in the comments section.

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