What to do when bored with negativity

I’ve been away from my blog and any sort of writing for quite some time. A long time, actually. In talking with Steve Jagler, editor of Biz Times Milwaukee, I justified my online silence with stories of client work, speaking engagements, and general busy-ness. I’m just like most of my clients. So why would I use “Bored!” as a headline?

Because I am bored. I have not been writing because frankly I’ve not known what I wanted to say. I was raised with the admonition, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

I haven’t had anything nice to say.

I’m bored with the negativity movement the permeates so much of our world today. I’m bored with people who like to point to everything that’s wrong with—well, everything. People who say, “I can’t” or “we can’t” or “it won’t work.”

I’m worn out with worries about gas prices, the economy, the environment, poor leadership, failing schools, teen pregnancy, guns, drunk drivers, stupid bosses, entitled workers, and falling poll numbers for just about everything.

This litany of woe bores me. And I hope it’s beginning to bore a lot of other people, too. Why? Because when we get bored we start looking for something to get interested in and excited about. That’s when change has a chance.

I’ve been talking foolishness to a widening circle of influential people and I’m starting to see a few sparkles in their eyes and feel a tiny pulse of possibility. Here’s what I’ve been suggesting: That we go on tour to find things that are working—from school systems to businesses, from happy families to productive communities, from medical discoveries to disaster recovery strategies—and begin to teach what works to people who are bored with what doesn’t.

It’s about benchmarking success and sharing it—an Appreciative Inquiry model (for those of you who study such things) that asks what we want more of, not what we want less of. Why study failure when success is what we’re after? Yes, there are deep lessons in failure and they are worth learning. But failure and its lessons often come along the path of striving for success. We don’t need to seek them out.

I’ve been talking about a virtual bus tour but maybe it’s something different. What motivates me is not only boredom, but frustration at seeing small pockets of excellence that aren’t big enough on their own to garner attention or funding, but that have an awful lot to teach others. We need to share this excellence!

We are engulfed in a contentious political climate, which generates daily stories of bad behavior and ill will that do nothing to foster growth or prosperity, but instead further a cosmic bad mood and sense of doom for everyone. Where is the value in any of that?

Here’s the call to action: Hit your refresh button. What’s done is done. Let’s understand how things got to be the way they are and focus our attention on the levers for change. We may be able to use the ones in place and we may have to create new ones.

If you want to learn, I hope you’ll get on the bus. If you’ve had success and have something to teach, please tell us where you are. If you have resources to further education in success (which by the way could be shared globally)—a bus, gas money, hotel rooms, food, meeting rooms, technology, communication systems, energy, knowledge and experience, a database of contacts—please raise your hand if you’re willing to help. Respond to this blog or email me at

We’ve run out of time to be complaining about who or what isn’t working. It’s time now to figure out what can work and invest our minds and energies to see that what works, happens.

Categories: Culture

About Susan Marshall

founder susan marshall

Susan A. Marshall is author, speaker and founder, whose mission is to create a stronger, more confident future, one person or team at a time.  Through personal experience and hands-on work with executives from diverse industries at all levels, Susan has had the privilege of helping thousands of people do the difficult and exhilarating work of growth.