Take Command of Your Army
2004 Boaz Rauchwerger
Dwight D. Eisenhower, ahead of his days as President of the United States, had a certain philosophy as an army General that bears the secret of why some people succeed and so many fail.
He said, Optimism and pessimism are infectious and they spread more rapidly from the head downward than in any other direction. Optimism has a most extraordinary effect upon all with whom the commander comes in contact. With this clear realization I firmly determined that my mannerisms and speech in public would always reflect the cheerful certainty of victory that any pessimism and discouragement I might ever feel would be reserved for my pillow.
My latest experience as a professional speaker proved General Eisenhowers philosophy in a most profound way. On a yearly basis I conduct over 100 seminars throughout North America for company presidents. These audiences are comprised of 12-15 CEOs each.
These meetings are usually held at member companies. However, once a year these groups have retreats where spouses are invited to attend. The retreats are often held at lovely resorts.
Of the 1,000 plus seminars that Ive conducted over the past 20 years, a retreat I conducted for a group of CEOs the other day has got to rank as one of the most unusual situations Ive ever encountered. It truly called upon all of the optimism I could possibly muster and all of the leadership abilities I could exemplify as the commander of my audience.
Up to that point, all of my hundreds of speaking events had taken place either in large auditoriums or in board rooms of companies. These I would call controlled environments.
The environment of my latest presentation, although a beautiful location, was at the other end of the spectrum. It took place outdoors, on a long back yard covered patio of a lovely lakefront home in a wooded area about 40 miles southeast of Rochester, New York.
When I arrived on the scene at 8 a.m., the leader of the group was quite concerned because the sky was overcast and there was a possibility of rain. In addition, instead of having auditorium seats or nice chairs around a boardroom table, we had chase lounges and a variety of outdoor chairs spread around the outside area.
I teach people how to conduct powerful meetings. The rules include having your audience sitting close to each other in a confined area and no distractions. Here it appeared as if the audience, comprised of over 20 people, would be spread out far from each other and the distraction was the possibility of rain.
Although most everyone would be under the roof, any amount of rain would drench those sitting close to the edge. I, as the speaker, would have to stand beyond the roof so everyone could see me. I guess you could say my message had the possibility of being all wet.
The natural human instinct, when were faced with an uncomfortable new situation, is to panic mentally and let pessimism paralyze us. However, as General Eisenhower stated so eloquently, Optimism has a most extraordinary effect upon all with whom the commander comes in contact. With this clear realization I firmly determined that my mannerisms and speech in public would always reflect the cheerful certainty of victory.
Thus, even though I was quite uneasy about the setup, I put on my most optimistic face and took command of my environment. I asked for help from the participants. We pulled all of the outdoor chairs close together, got jackets for those sitting near the edge of the roof, and I confidently announced that I was optimistic about the rain holding off.
Each of us has two personalities within our minds. As General Eisenhower said, theyre known as Optimism and Pessimism. If we dont learn to control pessimism, it will overpower optimism. Pessimism comes naturally; optimism is something we have to work on constantly. In light of an uncomfortable physical situation that morning, I disregarded the pessimistic thoughts that flooded my mind and pretended to be optimistic. I decided that, one way or another, I was going to make this a successful event. As I started my seminar with enthusiasm, a light rain began to fall, mostly on me. An audience member loaned me a jacket, a baseball cap, and I continued. The more I pretended to feel confident and optimistic, the more the audience began to respond.
Before I knew it, a fun and exciting atmosphere developed and everyone was enjoying the event. By taking charge of my environment, like a General taking command of his forces, I quickly forgot the unusual atmosphere and everything was fine.
In the final analysis, this ended up being one of the most successful seminars Ive every conducted. Everyone seemed to gain so much from my ideas and from each other.
I guess General Eisenhower was right, Optimism has a most extraordinary effect upon all with whom the commander comes in contact.Where in your life can you interject a little more of this? Im optimistic youll find a place.
An Affirmation of Optimism
I am the commander of my life. I lead with optimism.
Article reproduced with permission from Boaz Rauchwerger. You may reprint any of these articles in any publication or Web site so long as you credit Boaz Rauchwerger as the author and include this Web site address, www.Boazpower.com.