Always Push the Up Button

Years ago I concluded that life is like an elevator, in that we have a choice of two buttons to push–obviously, the UP button or the DOWN button. As with an elevator, in life we can’t push both buttons simultaneously. We have to choose.

You have observed, I’m sure, that which button you select to start your day somehow mysteriously seems to influence how that day will turn out. Push the DOWN button, and you’ll feel misplaced, possibly “in the dumps” and your interactions with colleagues, family and friends will involve an unusual degree of friction.

Ah, but when we push the UP button shortly after awakening, our mood becomes optimistic, even buoyant. Strangely, good events come our way–to an extent we wouldn’t have predicted. Apparently the universe sides with those who select UP.


A couple of weeks ago I made a major technical mistake. For my weekly video/podcast “Biz Communication Show” I had recorded a 23-minute interview with a business leader who gave solid insight into her topic. I could hardly wait to post the edited project. However, I accidentally erased the interview. What a waste of time–my time and the guest’s time, both in preparing and presenting. How embarrassing, even humiliating!


In reacting, here’s what I would have said to myself if I had pushed the DOWN button:

“You’re so dumb and unbelievably careless. You’re a loser, pure and simple. You’re not reliable. You ought to be ashamed.”

Had I launched those negative, accusatory words at myself, you can imagine how unproductive the rest of my day would have been.


Fortunately, I pushed the UP button. My thoughts were:

“So you made a mistake. That’s not your first one by any means, and sure won’t be the last one. Just proves you’re quite human. No matter how hard you try, you’ll never be perfect. So move along. Apologize to your guest–yet be kind to yourself. Remember the dozens of recordings you have made without any careless blunders. Stay calm, get back to work.”

Not surprisingly, my guest accepted my apology, agreeing to reschedule. My tech assistant was sympathetic when he learned why he didn’t get the interview link to edit.

The big lesson: Pushing the UP button doesn’t erase what has happened. Yet the UP button’s main value is keeping our morale high and our self-esteem intact.

“Always Push the Up Button” has been the theme of my keynote speeches for years. And in seminars that are not described as motivational, I often conclude the program with the UP button theme. In every presentation, I give each audience member an UP to wear and keep.


What message could be timelier now, when we have endured so much bad news for many months? In our Covid-19 “Twilight Zone” world most of us have very likely engaged in negative self-talk: “I won’t get a job again.” “I can’t recover with what’s happened to my business.”

I encourage you–push the UP button, always.


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Dave Lobaugh Shows How to Overcome Big Losses

Dave Lobaugh Didn't Act Limited
Dave Lobaugh Didn't Act Limited

Despite some slight recent upticks in the economy, during the last two years tens of thousands of people worldwide have suffered severe losses. Among them:
*Jobs, even careers
*Retirement funds
*Investment portfolio
*Marriages, which buckled under intense financial strain
*Emotional stability

With that background, I want to share a dramatic, highly motivational story with you–about a friend of mine who endured an unexpected, permanent loss. Yet he went on to accomplish the seemingly impossible. Here’s what happened:

Dave Lobaugh appeared to have everything going his way:

–Solid family with wife Gloria, two sons and a daughter.

–Retired from Shell Oil at age 55, then established a highly successful consulting practice, serving top-tier clients like Kroger, Stanley Tools, and M & M Mars, focusing on team building and other communication topics.

–Captain of his high school golf team in Toledo, Ohio, kept a 2 handicap in his 30s, and in semi-retirement shot in the 70s regularly with his golf pals in Milledgeville, Georgia.

Then the smooth, easy life ended. In March of 1996, Dave was building cabinets in his home workshop downstairs. Suddenly, he lost control of his radial-arm saw. To his horror, the saw severed four fingers from his right hand. Within hours, the orthopaedic surgeon said that reattaching the fingers would require 12 to 14 hours of surgery. Dave declined: “My fingers already were arthritic. It would have been difficult for me to retain any function.”

At first, deep depression swept over him. By phone a few weeks ago, Dave told me, “Lying in that hospital bed, I contemplated suicide. I pictured myself taking my boat to the middle of Lake Sinclair, tying weights around my feet, and ending it all that way.”

However, his despair did not last long. Relying on “a support system that was everywhere around me,” Dave Lobaugh rallied, like a golfer who had played a lousy front nine and needed to finish strong with only pars and birdies. Within a week, he was swinging a putter one-handed in his living room.

His wife Gloria and his friend Nathan Morgan helped him construct a velcro-supported glove for his right hand, to simulate the grip he had used for 56 years. By summer he returned to the game.

Then came a moment of magic. During an August 1996 round with his longtime three golfing pals, Dave watched his tee shot on Milledgeville Country Club’s 15th hole head straight for the green—and the flag. Bounce, roll, plop. . .a hole-in-one. Remarkably, after so many years of firing right at the pin with two five-finger hands, this was his first ace. Yet another was to follow in October of 2000, four years after his workshop mishap.

The photo above shows Dave displaying one of his “ace” golf balls.

Still, don’t consider him a one-shot wonder. Later, he won the club’s senior championship and after that the super-senior championship. At age 77, he fulfilled another golf fantasy, shooting the same score as his age.

Oh, I should mention as well that Dave Lobaugh conquered other health challenges. He went through colon cancer surgery in 2000 and quadruple bypass heart surgery in 2001.

David Franklin, head pro at the Milledgeville CC, commented about Dave: “His attitude never changed. He was ready to get back playing golf. That’s a tribute to his character.”

A personal note: For five years while I was vice president of Georgia College in Milledgeville, I knew Dave as a cheerful friend and golf companion. We also talked about consulting, a mutual professional interest that was to blossom for both of us eventually. I admired Dave as a successful business leader, and as a golfer who could outscore me any day. However, I didn’t get to know the real Dave Lobaugh until he overcame a loss that most of us would consider devastating and insurmountable.

Dave plays golf now near his new home in the Dallas, TX area. On those outings, you can be sure he is grateful for every swing.

Thanks to Dave Lobaugh for demonstrating how a courageous person can become a champion in life, even when the odds are strongly against you.

INVITATION: Want to hear other stories about remarkable individuals? Then order my audio CD, “Always Push the Up Button: How to Stay Highly Motivated Every Day!” Here is the link to my Web site’s shopping cart:

The site accepts several major credit cards, and you do not have to have a PayPal account.

Just scroll down that page until you come to the motivation CD description.

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