Years ago, I sat in a meeting with some fairly disgruntled leaders. I was of them. There were changes at our company and we were not thrilled about all of them. We had spent weeks confiding in one another, building our case and preparing for this meeting. We were incredibly focused on what wasn’t right. To this day, I can’t even remember what we were upset about.
The meeting opened with a great agenda but quickly deteriorated into a very emotional, frustrated conversation. Seeing that we were not getting anywhere, the VP (who we all adored) calmly asked us to pause. He had an exercise to walk us through. I smile as I type it. I learned a great deal from this man. This might be the greatest lesson he ever taught me. He said “everybody close your eyes”. When I count to five, I want you to open your eyes and find everything brown in this room.”
He counted to five, gave us five seconds with our eyes open and then asked us to close them again. With our eyes open once again, he asked us how many brown things we found. We eagerly answered thinking there was a right answer. I think I found seven. Then he asked “who found something red? blue? gold?” One of us said that we hadn’t been looking for these colors. He just smiled.
You see my friends, we find what we look for. If we are looking for the brown in life, we will find it… politics, taxes, crime, change. We will also find others looking for the brown in life. We will point it out for each other. If we are not careful… we will pile all of the brown together into huge, overwhelming, insurmountable mounds. The more of it we find… the worse we feel, the less motivated we are, the less successful and joyful we are.
Look for more than the brown. Look what is right, what works and what you can build on. Surround yourself with others looking for the blues, the reds and the golds.