One of my clients was a CIO at a large healthcare company.  He enjoyed sharing his leadership insights with me.  At the time, he had a large project that was going badly. It was a serious situation that eventually cost him his job.  In the midst of the bedlam, I asked if he was worried. His answer will stick with me forever.

He said he once had a boss who was a Korean War Vet, a Commander who had seen serious combat.  He told me when he was a young leader and approached his commander boss stress out over some situation, the boss would say, “How many men did you lose today son?” “None sir,” would be my client’s answer. So, remember if you haven’t lost any men, you are having a good day.

This timeless leadership lesson for managers needs to resonate. If you are stressed out, and therefore stressing your people out, chill out!  You haven’t lost any men, and hopefully never will. You may be in a serious situation at work, but it is not a matter of life or death.

Try lightening up with your troops.  Even if you are in a bad place and have to work your butts off, make it fun!

What does it take to smile a little, crack a joke and have your laughs?  Hard times are a relative thing.  My Grandmother used to say, “This too shall pass.” Try and show thanks and gratitude for having a team that is there every day striving to meet your objectives. These are your comrades in arms. Even if you are stressed, never let them see you sweat.  Get into the trenches and relate to them as people.

How far can a boss with a light-hearted attitude take a team that is under stress?  A lot farther than a stressed-out maniac ever will.


“Your attitude is like a box of crayons. Constantly color your picture gray and your picture stays bleak. Try adding some color with humor and your picture lightens up.”

-Allen Klein


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