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Kevin J. O'Toole, the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is a former New Jersey State Senator. (Photo: Kevin J. O'Toole.)

The O’Toole Chronicles: Hope, Not Fear

By Kevin O'Toole, April 22 2021 12:01 am

During this last year many of us have experienced once unimaginable loss, grief, and uncertainty and it is understandable that we discuss our loss and emotions. However, what I find socially intolerable and politically repugnant are individuals who constantly traffic in the negative and push away hope and embrace fear.  These naysayers love to wallow in the darker side and bring the rest of us down — it has to stop.

We all know that person who when asked how’s it going always finds a way to insert a complaint about every facet in his or her life.

I have developed a habit, trained myself if you will, to avoid those professional depressants who not only live in a world of doom-and-gloom, but seem to enjoy casting a dark cloud over everyone they come in contact with. These doomsayers work hard to ensure anyone within earshot is as miserable as they are. When I hear the “woe is me,” that is my cue to exit stage right!

I have written in the past that leaders lead, and that advice is never more true than in the world we live in today.

Corporate, civic, religious and political leaders should try and center themselves in what I call “Energizer Zones.” When you leave a conversation with a spirited leader it lifts the atmosphere, it lifts spirits, lightens the grey and boosts the environment . Wouldn’t it be a better world if our leaders carried on with uplifting messages and left the boo-birds behind?

Leaders need to convey positivity and inspire others to be grateful for our place in this world. All too often we forget the amazing things in our lives and politicians like to prey upon fear — while downplaying hope. Let me be clear that when things are bad, it is no time for Pollyanna — if the truth is tough to hear, let’s hear it, but let’s work to make it better.

We have all seen “Debbie Downer” on Saturday Night Live and can relate or find someone in our life who can fill that role. The sun is never shining, the kids are filled with problems, work is too much, the neighbor’s dog barks too much and on and on.

In this day and age, we should seek out leaders who walk into the room and light it up with hope not fear, pursue promise not chase failure. We have all dealt with a demanding job, unappreciative co-workers or challenging relatives, but so what.

With Zoom and the virtual world starting to ebb away, I would ask everyone to try and adopt a more positive spirit as we move forward in life. Let’s get rid of the dead zones and have “Energizer” moments so people can be hopeful.

Now I’m not advocating that we all run around and try and be the next Tony Robbins, but we can try to be positive without being overbearing.

I have tried to live by a simple motto that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. I have extended that motto – positive thinking leads to positive people and negative thinking leads to negative people.

As we begin to reopen, lets reopen our thinking to optimism.

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