Seize the Advantage


When is the last time you heard someone ask, “Tell me what’s going well today?”

It can be easier to focus on all of the negativity out there. The news tells us everything that’s wrong with the world, pundits tell us everything that’s wrong with our leaders, and we even find ourselves in meetings hearing about what is wrong with our jobs. We spend a lot of time worrying about what is wrong and who is going to fix it. Why not spend some time looking at what is working, and making sure more people can seize the advantage?

I heard an old proverb recently that something went like this: A boy gets into trouble at school, and his grandfather goes to pick him up. After some conversation about what happened, the grandfather says, “There are two wolves that live inside you. One is bad, and the other good.” The boy then asks “Which one is stronger?”  The grandfather looks him square in the eyes and says, “The one you feed.”

Now, I’m not suggesting you bury your head in the sand and ignore all of the bad news out there. What I’m suggesting is a possible change in focus at work and at home. How do you do it? First, like with any goal, you have to make a decision. So many humans have been conditioned since childhood to accept anything they see that’s bad, and question anything they see as good until the root bad is uncovered.

When I was in the Air Force, I once had a debate with a Chief about doing the right things for the right reasons. We were discussing performance appraisals, and I suggested that someone who did something good, like help out Habitat for Humanity, just for the credit on their annual appraisals weren’t as valuable as someone who did the work because their heart was in it. That’s right, I was looking for the bad in something good being done.

The Chief looked at me and said, “I don’t care why they do it, because in the end the house still gets built.”

We live in a society where it almost seems like a requirement to have something to complain about. Many of us find ourselves looking…scratch that…searching intently for the bad out there buried in the good. So how do we get past that negativity, and feed the good in ourselves?

1. Decide that it’s okay to recognize when good things happen, even if you don’t like (or didn’t vote for) the person/people responsible.

2. Take time each day to point out something good at work or at home, and thank/congratulate/pat on the back the person who did it.

3. Take a few minutes each day to do or create something good yourself, even if no one else notices.

4. Get involved! Church, Habitat for Humanity, Rotary, Toastmasters, YMCA, local homeless shelters, your local library … the list goes on. Pick one.

There are a lot of advantages to being more positive about the world. Many opportunities pass by the naysayer, but are available to those that are looking for them. If you find that you’re a person that is feeding the bad wolf, take the time to make an adjustment, decide to be more positive, and seize the advantages out there…


  1. Rob, these are words to live by. I have learned a lot this past year and am again facing problems with Heather. Rather than dwelling on the bad, we are both looking at things with a positive perspective. I have a granddaughter soon to be born. While she will be my only blood grandchild with Heather, at least this baby provided the test that shows that Heather has stage 1 cervical cancer. While I was feeling sorry for her, she was looking at things in a positive light. Slapped me in the face. The other thing that I have learned is that a week long tent camping trip with my 74 year old mom, brought about some interesting things. One, my mom is awesome, two, beware where you look, there may be romance in the air, and three, all the hikes in the world don’t count when you trip over your own feet and sprain both ankles. In the campsite no less. I will also remember that those project leaders that drive me nuts, usually have reasons for some of the things they do.

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