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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Even Elvis Didn’t Have a Hit With Every Song

I recorded this brief video on Monday, when most of us think about our goals.

Note that if the vastly talented Elvis didn’t have a hit with every song, then we need to become very realistic about our goals.

As I advise, even when we don’t reach coveted goals, we need to talk to ourselves positively and supportively.

I invite you to visit my Web site, where you can subscribe to my online newsletter, “Winning Words and Ways,” and also review my services for corporations and business leaders.

BONUS: When you subscribe, there’s a special gift coming your way instantly–my video interviews with 25 top business communication professionals!

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