Choosing to See the Silver Lining

Choosing to See the Silver Lining

Mar 19, 2020Richard Smith

I'm choosing to see the silver lining.

In the spring of 1998, a young boy was dreading his 400m race. There was terrible rain and cold conditions that day, he was away from his home track, and he was assigned Lane 9, the slowest and worst lane. He felt defeated and pleaded his case to his coach that he needed to scratch from the event.

His coach said, “Listen - this cold rain, and being in Lane 9, is to your advantage. Everyone else will be psyched out because it’s so cold and wet, and you will start in front of everyone and they will have to catch you. It’s to your advantage.”

Coach Ken Reeves was a genius. Mind blowing to me then, and an excellent reminder now - the choice of positive thinking. The deck appeared stacked against me, and yet somehow coach reframed my perspective. Rain? It will help you. Lane 9? It will help you. Big school with strong competition? It will help you. Ever since that day, I’ve never stopped thinking about the power of positive thinking and how we choose to see the world.

In the past weeks, we have all watched a biological foe move from a distant, foreign issue, to a serious threat. Small businesses, our elderly population, school children, parents of school children... really everyone’s life is being impacted by the pandemic. There’s also so much information to digest, so quickly. Like most people I know, I’ve been doing my best to balance learning quality information with social distancing (for me via exercise & running). On my last run, I asked myself what is the silver lining? In all the fray, where is the positive? 

1) Social conscientiousness - We’re realizing as a community and society that my behavior affects others. Whether I wash my hands or not, could affect your family or friends. Even if I don’t get sick or if I do get sick and recover, I could pass this virus to someone else and that is powerful. While I hope the threat of the coronavirus is quickly subdued, I hope this mentality does not. As one of my favorite comedians said: “You don’t just get a flu shot for you, you get it for everybody else. We all have a real responsibility to one another right now, because the choices we make in the coming days and weeks, will contribute directly to how bad this crisis gets.” -John Oliver, 3/15/2020 on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. So wash those hands, wipe down surfaces, stay home if you don’t feel well, and think about your best friends’ parents and those who are at risk.

2) Take care of yourself by “Putting on your oxygen mask first.” Been on a plane? You’ve heard the phrase. You can’t help others if you’re not in a good place.

  • Don’t skip your workout! Find a way to workout in your living room, garage, or outside. Don’t stress out because the gym is closed. Tap an online resource like coaches from Gymnazo, TRX Training, CTS, Breakaway Training (plus many more) and make it happen.
  • Get your sleep! Get off social media at bedtime and unplug from the hysteria. Losing sleep is one of the fastest ways to depress your immune system. (Read Matthew Walker’s “Why We Sleep” for more on that).
  • Get quality food & stay hydrated - grocery stores might be shy on frozen, but they still appear stocked on fresh fruits & vegetables. Some local farms are willing to deliver vegetables. Find a way to get quality nutrition! If you don’t feel like cooking, nourish yourself and support local restaurants with food to go or a delivery service.

3) Give back - Find your local food banks, houses of worship, and local nonprofits that are supporting and providing aid to your communities. Find the $20 you were going to spend on happy hour and give. Feed your karma.

Let’s reframe our perspective and take positive action! I won my race in Lane 9 that day, and set a personal best. I wouldn’t have without positive thinking and finding the silver lining (thanks to Coach Reeves). The coronavirus is real, and its scars will be lasting and remind us of a trying time. And yet, I do not wish to look back and say I did nothing to help. A friend and great entrepreneur Jason Winn told me years ago, “In an uncontrollable world you always have control of yourself, and that is most important." Jason was right then, and now. And that control of ourselves, our behaviors, our attitudes, is what gives me hope for a brighter tomorrow.

My best,


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