The silver lining is there, if you look for it

    In today’s hyper media-centered world, I continue to tell my friends and family its important to get a balanced viewpoint on many of the issues that we face.

    I’m often frustrated by the focus that seems to permeate everything we read, view or listen to…The negative viewpoint and the shock value of information. It’s like a contest to see who can make us fear the most.

    The other day, as I listened to a BBC commentator ask a so-called expert about foreclosures in the U.S. housing market, the reporter said, "So, we’re really heading for another Great Depression right?"

    The expert almost laughed and said, "No, we aren’t even close to the 50 to 60 percent of the foreclosure rate of the 1930s … In fact, it’s really only doubled from 2 to 4 percent."

    My point is everyone is looking for the next shocking headline.

    Why not look for the silver lining in every situation? One of the things my brief experience of 56+ years on the planet has taught me is there usually a silver lining to find… You just have to train yourself to look for it. As I like to say, rummage around in the closet and sometimes it will fall out, maybe even hit you in the head, but its worth the effort.

    Come to think of it, I’ve been hit on the head few too many times, some would argue.

    Some might call me different, but I can tell you it’s really cool to always let your mind search for the positive, the lesson learned, the golden nugget in a situation. Many times, what appears on the surface to have negative consequences is another opportunity just waiting. Someone once told me that FEAR stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. What an interesting thought, eh? 

    Here’s a short list to get you started.. Can you find a Silver Lining?

    Janesville GM plant closing. Gas nearing $5.00 gallon. The War in Iraq. Outsourcing to China. A down stock market. The Miller/Coors merger. Divorce. Losing your job. Inflation … You get the idea.

    From my personal perspective of a naturalized U.S. citizen, one of the most remarkable attributes of Americans I really admire is their capacity to solve problems with unparalleled ingenuity, unbridled compassion and most important … a belief in the freedom of  expression without fear of reprisal. They find silver linings in themselves.

    My challenge to you is to find the silver lining in situations in both your personal and business lives. And when you do, focus on it. You may find your days (including Mondays) are almost like holidays.

    P.S. Warning: The evening news will never be the same!
    Gary Billington is vice president of client relations at Plunkett Raysich Architects LLP in Milwaukee.

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