It seems predetermined that I worked all my life with Merrill Lynch which is noted for its motto, "Bullish on America." I remember back in the 1950's when Bob Suydam, a Merrill Lynch partner, asked our class of future operations managers what philosophy we would espouse. He called on me for a response and I answered, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." He liked my positive attitude and that I lived my life like that in all endeavors... family, sports, business, etc.
Since I was a teenager I have been collecting positive, uplifting anecdotes that I try to live by. Examples include, "I never met a rich pessimist." from Bill Schreyer and, "The optimist finds opportunity in every difficulty, not difficulty in every opportunity." from Winston Churchill. One of the simplest and most important maxims for success was presented by Wayne Gretzky: "You miss 100% of the shots you never take." The underlying premise of Contagious Optimism is the same as many of these uplifting anecdotes - positive thinking, inspiration, and motivation but across many facets of life and compiled from people all over the globe.
Years ago a business magazine said I exude positive thinking so much that I even have The Optimist Creed framed on my wall. This creed was written in 1912 by Christian D. Larson. His goal was clear; to attract good into your life and to share good with others. While this may have been written 100 years ago, it still holds true today and is unaffected by time.
The Optimist Creed
To be so strong that nothing can disturb your
peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to
every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel that there is
something worthwhile in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and
make your optimism come true.
To think only of the best, to work only for the
best, and expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of
others as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press
on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times
and give every living creature you meet a smile.
To give so much time to the improvement of
yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger,
too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the
presence of trouble.
To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world,
not in loud word, but in great deeds.
To live in the faith that the whole world is on your side,
so long as you are true to the best that is in you.
As humans, many of us have principles we live by. Organizations generally have principles as well. At Merrill Lynch, we have five principles we call the "Five Commandments." These are Client Focus, Respect for the Individual, Teamwork, Responsible Citizenship, and Integrity. If you notice, all of these have a positive, uplifting connotation. None are negative, counter-productive, or pessimistic. Shortly after becoming Chairman, I had these principles chiseled in our lobby floor at our world headquarters in New York and posted in every office around the globe in the local language. Our leadership teams are evaluated on how they interpret and carry out these principles. Similarly as humans, we have to act on our principles as well. Having them is not enough unless you live by them.
Reading Contagious Optimism will allow you to appreciate and understand the principles that people of all races, religions, and socioeconomic backgrounds live by and have exhibited during their life's adventures.
Daniel P. Tully
Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc.
I then got up the nerve to say, "My mission is to help you and the people around you have a happier life." I looked at the faces of the executives, expecting some kind of challenge. Then I asked, "Does anyone have any objection to this mission?" No one objected. So far, no one has ever objected.
I feel the same way about this book. Contagious Optimism is inspired by the idea of "positive forward thinking" created by David Mezzapelle. Positive forward thinking is the ability to find the silver lining in every cloud no matter how difficult yesterday or today may be. David has since developed his idea into this great book of stories and tools for readers worldwide.
In today's competitive world it's difficult to remain optimistic and focused. Without a positive attitude we can face many obstacles to happiness. It's easy to get caught in a "poor me" cycle if we dwell on the negative aspects of life and work, the fast pace of our lives, the constant barrage of emails, a 24/7 workplace and so on.
That's why we all need a little inspiration sometimes, and the uplifting message of Contagious Optimism does just that. If you are experiencing a difficult situation at work or at home, this book can help. Each chapter relates to a theme such as goals, relationships, finance, careers, health, and more. The sections are filled with the wisdom, philosophy and experience of many contributors. In addition to the wealth of information and encouragement provided by professionals, there are stories included from a variety of contributors. These are real people sharing real solutions to real problems. And, these stories make this book very intriguing!
No matter how difficult or easy your life may be at any given moment, it is possible to experience meaning and happiness. Read it for yourself. Read it for your teams at work. Read it for your family. It will help you improve your life, your outlook, and your behavior. Enjoy!
Life is good.