“Was I deceived, or did a sable cloud turn forth her silver lining on the night?”
John Milton wrote that line in his 1634 play, Comus.
Since then, the phrase “silver lining” has become the go-to cliché for any hopeful or comforting prospect in the midst of difficulty.
Even though the meteorologically inclined would tell you that (actual) silver linings on storm clouds grow from atmospheric lead and sulfate contamination.
EITHER WAY, THE CHALLENGE IS: How can you train yourself to become an expert at finding the silver lining in every experience?
ANSWER: Just ask.
It’s not about positivity – it’s about leveragability.
Here’s a list of thirteen Silver Lining Questions you can ask yourself, your team or your customers on a daily basis to leverage EVERY experience in a positive light.
And, just for fun, I’ve paired each question with a song lyric by a different musician or band that wrote a song called “Silver Lining.” Apparently it’s a popular topic in the songwriting world too. Take this, Al Roker:
1. How can I use this situation as a gateway to learning something about myself, and then change for the better? Everyone, everything and every experience are your mentors. This too will shape you. But only if you give it permission to do so.
As Amanda Ghost sang, “Silver lining I bathe in your light, I’ll always believe in your place in my life, silver lining I know that I’m right, I’ll always believe in your right to shine.”
2. How could this positively affect me? This is a tough question to ask when the shit hits the fan. The challenge is partnering with your pain. Greeting discomfort with a welcoming heart. Saying yes to what is and inviting every experience to teach you.
As Beula sang, “You want it, silver lining shining for you, you got it, the dark cloud always waiting for you.”
3. How will this make me stronger and better? Than you used to be, that is. Not stronger and better than anyone else. The only person worth competing with is the earlier version of yourself. It’s not about being better than anyone – it’s about being better than you used to be.
As Cheryl Wheeler sang, “I’m gonna be your certain silver lining, I’m gonna be your lullaby at night, I’m gonna be your baby all right.”
4. How does this relate to my life purpose? Success is a function of your ability to be at peace with the following truth: Everything that happens to you is exactly what is supposed to happen to you. Even the detours are part of your path. May as well get used to it.
As Chet Baker sang, “Look for the silver lining, whenever a cloud appears in the blue remember somewhere the sun is shining, and so the right thing to do, is make it shine for you.”
5. Now that I have this, what else does this make possible? This is the third most important question I ask myself on a daily basis. Incorporate it into your daily lexicon and you’ll become a master leverage artist. You’ll kill two stones with one bird every time.
As David Gray sang: “Take this silver lining, keep it in your own sweet head, shine it when the night is burning red, shine it in the twilight, shine it on the cold, cold ground, shine it till these walls come tumbling down.”
6. What can I learn from this? Something. Anything. Everything. As long as you’re dedicated to lifelong learning. As long as you remain teachable. As long as you remind yourself that you’ve never figured it all out. What finish line?
As Jeff Beck sang, “And it’s hi-ho silver lining, anywhere you go now, baby I see your sun is shining but I will make a fuss, though it’s obvious.”
7. What idea does this give me? Ask this question five times a day and you will never cease to be inspired. Innovation will become your breakfast, lunch and dinner. Lightning will strike the same place over and over again.
As Kate Voegele sang, “But so many people are looking to me, to be strong and to fight, but I’m just surviving, I may be weak but I’m never defeated, and I’ll keep believing in clouds with that sweet silver lining.”
8. What is the hidden treasure inside this person that maybe others don’t see? It all depends on what you see when you see people. Plus, how long you’re willing to dig before unearthing the diamonds that lie beneath. Plus, how hard you’re willing to ignore other people’s misguided assumptions about this person.
As Reliant K sang, “Isn’t it nice? Isn’t it nice to know that the lining is silver? Isn’t it nice to know that we’re golden?”
9. What is this an opportunity for? Growth? Connection? Service? Adventure? Instant reeducation? Reframe your problems. Reassess your situations. Convert them into something more productive.
As Rilo Kiley sang: “And I was your silver lining, as the story goes, I was your silver lining, but now I’m gold.”
10. What makes this person special? It’s your job to find it, affirm it, share it and reinforce it. And NOT because you want to make people feel “special” or “important” or “valued.” But because you want to make them feel essential. You want to honor their essence.
As The Bled sang, “This is what I found in the wake, the message was scratched on the face of his grave, it goes we will find the silver lining and make this our own.”
11. What potential, ability and wisdom do I see in this person? If you can’t learn at least one thing from everyone you meet, you’re not trying very hard. Everyone is your teacher. Everyone knows at least one thing you don’t. You just have to be willing to staple your tongue to your mouth to receive it.
As Upstanding Youth sang, “These are my lines to memorize, and make sure you believe them, cause things are bad and at the edge of every cloud’s a black lining, but wait, she said, as she stood by my side, and how her face glows, the black lining’s gone, it’s silver.”
12. Where else can I use this? Attribute transferring. Morphological synthesizing. Metaphorical thinking. Analogical transmitting. It’s all the same. It’s all about learning to bring ideas from one field of knowledge into another. From Domain A to Domain Z.
As We Shot the Moon sang, “We can be found, we can be found, it’s never too late to change, you came around, and you came around, a silver lining, found me again.”
13. Where is the gift in this? Abundance is a function of receptivity. For many people, this is hard. Because when you receive, you’re out of control. And people love to preserve their sense of control.
As Wino sang, “As I ride through life, I’m gonna keep on trying to keep the love and bring the hopes and dreams alive, on every dark cloud there is a silver lining, the gleaming fortress of spirit, it will shine!”
REMEMBER: If you can’t think of anything nice to say, you’re not very creative.
Every side is the bright side. Train yourself to treat every experience with deep democracy. I challenge you to ask yourself, your team and your customers these questions to find the silver lining in every experience.
Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s starting to rain outside.
I need to go out and play before it stops.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
What color are your clouds?
LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “15 Ways to Out LEARN Your Competitors,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
Bummer. Perhaps my monthly coaching program would help.
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