What to Do When You Can't Afford to Have a Bad Day

What's your warm-up?

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Every day—even if you work at home—you present yourself. The minute you pick up the phone and say "Hello," that's a presentation.

And what you're presenting, always, is your attitude, which others experience as positive energy, negative energy, or no energy.

"I can't have a bad day," says CEO Joseph J. Plumeri.

"If I walk into a meeting," he says, "and I'm grumpy—not good . . . You simply can't have that one off day that's bad, because you're going to affect a lot of people."

Attitude is viral. We know that.

But, like the Dunkin Donuts commercial, we sometimes wake up wrong. We wake up weary. It's too early and it's too dark—but too bad. Time to make the donuts.

Is your morning tense? The typical morning involves:

1) An alarm clock. I use one, and every time it goes off—I'm alarmed.

I'm also alarmed by the possibility it won't go off.

2) Rush hour. You've probably engineered your morning with split second precision. That means, no time.

Rush hour begins the second you step out of bed.

3) World news. Let's face it, the news is not good.

Typical headline: Yesterday, something bad happened. Tomorrow, something worse. Stay tuned.

4) Your personal news. Everyone's got at least 2-3 concerns (health, financial, family, relationship, automotive) that they wake up into.

My current concern is my house, which my wife and I recently sold. That's good, but we haven't yet bought another.

And the couple who bought our house expect a great deal. I worry, for example, that they actually expect us to pack up and move out.

Where are we going? I wonder.

Well, right now, we're going to work. But first, you and I need to warm up. We need to adjust our attitude.

How? Lots of options—exercise, music, meditation. I do these things, even though that sometimes requires a 4:30 a.m. start.

But here's a 30-second one: laugh. (Sounds odd, I agree, and it's probably the last thing you feel like doing.)

Laugh for no reason. Laugh aloud, or laugh silently, in the shower, or on your way to work.

Laugh at yourself. Laugh at your predicament: "I have no house, ha, ha, ha."

A physician in India, Dr. Madan Kataria, has been promoting the health benefits of laughing for many years. (Technically, you don't need to laugh for many years. A few seconds should suffice.)

There are now 6,000 laughter clubs in 60 countries. I'm not part of this movement, nor is laughing-for-no-reason my usual practice.

But every once in a while, I find it useful. Especially when I'm in no mood.

Tip: Before you start work, warm up.

Consultant, author, speaker, and founder of express potential® (www.expresspotential.com), Paul Hellman has worked with CEOs, executives, and managers at leading companies for over 25 years to improve performance and productivity at work. His latest book is “Naked at Work: How to Stay Sane When Your Job Drives You Crazy,” and his columns have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post and other leading papers.

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