After an absence of almost four months the Journal is back, but with a definite twist. Let me explain.

             I’ve been around for over seven decades, during more than fifty of which I’ve been, either by accident or design, engaged in a number of diverse business and professional pursuits.

             In my corporate life I spent four years with a major railway company, seven years with one of the world’s largest pipeline companies and four years in the sports and entertainment world. During that time I was everything from an office boy to a CEO.

              I spent thirty-four years with international accounting and consulting firms in positions ranging from accounting student to senior partner. In that life I dealt with every size of operation from start-up entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 companies. I guided the business and financial affairs of many senior executives as well as world-renowned athletes and entertainers. I’ve served on nineteen boards, ranging from non-profit organizations to public companies, and was chairman of two of the largest professional organizations in Canada. I’ve been an egg-candler and a radio and television commentator. I’ve written over three hundred articles and eight books. I’ve also co-authored six books. These days my professional activity consists of being an executive coach.

             I come from a large family and have children and grandchildren of my own; I’ve been blessed with many friends and cursed with a few enemies; I played and officiated hockey and baseball for many years, so I’ve had countless non-business-realted experiences.

             The point is that I’ve dealt with hundreds of companies, thousands of people, and tens of thousands of situations.

              I always took a keen interest in what was going on around me, observed carefully what the people invovled said and did, and then formed an opinion on how and why particular results ensued. At the first opportunity I jotted down, in epigrammatic form under 82 different headings, the opinions I reached from my observations and analyses. The most important lesson I learned is that happiness and success in any walk of life don’t depend on one major element or event but rather depend on how we handle the myriad, and ever-changing, challenges that we face every day.  Living a happy and successful life is very much like riding a bicycle: stop pedalling and you fall off.

             Each week for the next few months I’ll be reproducing my epigrammatic observations in the Journal. Sometimes an illustrative anecodote or more detailed observation will be included, sometimes you’ll just get the epigrams. One thing for sure is that there’ll be something in here for everybody.

             This week we’ll start off with what I fervently believe is the most important element in achieving happiness: Attitude.


             There is a triangle of success. The left side is knowledge. But we all know knowledgeable people who have failed. The right side represents skills with which to apply knowledge. But, we also know knowledgeable and skilled people who have failed. Those are the ones who don’t possess the base of the triangle, which is “attitude.”

             You see, our attitude is the only factor in life over which we have complete control. No one can change it or affect it unless we let them. I once asked a very successful, and always happy, colleague what the secrets of his success and happiness were. He replied, “Every day when I get up, I pretend there’s a clothes rack of characteristics at the side of my bed, any one of which I can choose to wear for the day. I always pick a positive attitude.”

            People aren’t born with their attitudes, they develop them.

             When your phone rings at four o’clock in the morning and it turns out to be a wrong number, be thankful, not angry.

             Bad luck and setbacks are part of life; misery is a choice.

             Things work out best for people who make the best of things.

             Some things have to be believed to be seen.

             It’s always expectations that cause frustrations.

             We may not be able to control circumstances or people, but we can control our attitude toward them.

             Love of flowers won’t make you a good gardener; you must also hate weeds.

             People who make everything a life-and-death proposition are dead a lot.

             You don’t have to like facts in order to face them.

             Until you realize your strengths, you don’t have any.

             Easy tasks become hard when done reluctantly.

             No matter how bad times get; they’ll look better with a cheerful approach.

             Whether you would pay $50 for a chocolate bar depends entirely on how hungry you are.

             Whatever you’re going through, it probably isn’t as serious as you think.

             In times like these, it’s good to remember that there have always been times like these.

             Whether you think you can or can’t do something, you’re probably right.

             Sometimes you have to see things for what they aren’t.

             You really have to wait until bedtime to determine what kind of a day it was; sometimes we need to have avoided a disaster in order to feel exceptionally good about an ordinary day.

             We can never completely eliminate negative thoughts; but we can get better at dismissing them.

             When you’re grateful for all that is good in your life, better things usually follow.

             To truly enjoy the advantages of a situation you have to be ready to accept the disadvantages.

             Sometimes you can see things from there that you can’t see from here.

             Even on the worst day you can find something to make tomorrow worth looking forward to.

             Not seeing something coming isn’t always your fault.

             Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.

             In addition to being thankful for the things we have, we should also be thankful for the things we don’t have that we don’t want.

             Because you know what something smells like doesn’t necessarily mean you know what it tastes like.

             We should never think other people are more significant than they really are.

             When you think you can easily categorize someone, remember that you may be wrong.

             If you think that you don’t need others in your life, you’ve never been without them.

             Actions that seem innocent to you may seem like betrayals to others.

             Loneliness is negative but solitude is positive.

             It’s worthy to be grateful, dangerous to be beholden.

             We should believe in coincidence only after everything else has been ruled out.

             It’s unwise to be ruled by the misfortune of others.

             So long as you’ve got your health, everything else is just an inconvenience.

             We should never stop looking for happy endings.

             It’s often a mistake to equate untidiness with incompetence.

             Everything looks different in the sunlight.

             It’s up to you whether memories evoke smiles or tears, and when the past becomes more important that the future you’re finished.