Family legend has it that one of my distant relatives made thousands of dollars a day during the Great Depression.


Apparently, he didn’t succumb to what I would call, “shrinking thinking,” which is prevalent during economic downturns.

Shrinking thinking assumes one very significant thing, which can be stated this way:

“Today will be inevitably less successful, less productive, and less profitable than yesterday.”

If we take our cues from the mass media, this would seem to be the case. There have been massive layoffs and unemployment has worsened, over the course of the last two years. Among those that are employed, some people are being forced to accept furloughs, reduced pay, and other setbacks and hardships.

For many, the suffering is quite palpable, and all too real.

And yet, daunting as their stories are, there are others being written that will recall this time as a watershed, a source of breakthroughs.

Those that use this time of turmoil well, that accentuate what they CAN do, will emerge strengthened instead of permanently weakened. And these folks will entertain a very different assumption:

“My destiny is shaped by factors inside of me, and not factors outside, over which I exert little direct control.”

Proctor and Gamble made the bold decision to aggressively advertise its household products during the Great Depression. In the process, that company invented what has come to be called, the soap opera, inasmuch as Ivory soap and kindred items sponsored recurring episodes of radio shows.

P & G envisioned expansion instead of contraction, and it build a huge and growing customer based during the most challenging times, though its president was criticized for his optimism.

It’s tempting to snooze during a long winter of lowered expectations, but now may be the perfect time to put into practice Ben Franklin’s admonition:

“Plow deep while sluggards sleep, and you’ll have enough corn to plant and to eat.”

Even in the best of times, when the living is easy, there are those that will not seize the day, and prosper. Remember, their destiny is not yours.

Shrinking thinking is sinking thinking.

When things look the bleakest on the outside, this is your cue to look inward, and upward for your inspiration.

Dr. Gary S. Goodman is a top speaker, sales, service, and negotiation consultant, attorney, TV and radio commentator and the best-selling author of 12 books. He conducts seminars and speaks at convention programs around the world. His new audio program is Nightingale-Conant’s “Crystal Clear Communication: How to Explain Anything Clearly in Speech & Writing.” His web site is and He can be reached

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