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Smile First. Feel like it Later!


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My wife has a saying that is heard frequently in our home when attitudes go awry. "Smile and you just might feel like doing it." C.S. Lewis brings up a similar concept when he says, "The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you 'love' your neighbour; act as if you did. As soon as we do this, we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him."

The similarity between these two quotes from these two extraordinary human beings is this: Action is a good precursor to thought. When you do not feel like smiling, one of the cures is to engage in the act of smiling. The action can then often erase the questions of wanting to. Lewis' statement mirrors this concept—when you put action to loving your neighbor, you will no longer have to question whether or not you love your neighbor. Lewis is pointing out that behavior comes first and then defines our feelings and our thoughts.

These concepts easily cross the street from the home and neighborhood to the land of organizations and leadership. Leaders can actively shape future outcomes of their organizations by their present actions and choices. Indeed, let me go further and say this: Leaders are actively shaping future outcomes of their organizations by their present actions and choices. Are you smiling?