10 Ways to Show Up as a Positive Leader When the House is on Fire

Good Afternoon Dan,

So here is my question. I would love some advice on, how the heck can I get myself to show up as a positive leader day-to-day.

(This reader’s question was preceded with an explanation of his burning-house situation.)

#1. Give yourself permission to feel like crap.

If you’re happy when the house is on fire, you’re an idiot. There’s a huge difference between staying positive and feeling like crap.

A burning house sucks. Pretending it doesn’t is stupid.

#2. Keep a Crap List.

Your brain will thank you if you just write down the issues you’re dealing with. You don’t have to commit to fixing it all. Just write it down.

#3. Remember your history.

The grit that got you here will carry you through. You’ve been through some tough times. It won’t be the end of the world if the house burns down.

#4. Lead, don’t wander.

Choose ONE leadership behavior that seems to matter most today and practice it. Tomorrow, make the choice again. Maybe it’s as simple as holding your head up and breathing

#5. Glance at the big picture.

You have to fight the fire with all your might. But once in a while, think about what’s more important than your current crisis.

#6. Keep short accounts.

Don’t let issues pile up. If you screw up, apologize and move on. But don’t pretend it didn’t happen.

#7. Find clarity in frustration.

Anger shows you what you don’t want. Think about what you want.

#8. Connect with a friend.

When the house is on fire relationships matter more. I always hate to see leaders going it alone.

#9. Feel the fear.

Fear of failure might fuel your energy.

#10. Pray.

Everything you know about leadership matters more when the house is on fire.

Best wishes,


Which of the above ideas best resonate with you when the house is on fire?

What suggestions do you have for staying positive when things are tough?