A few years ago, I was contracted to provide training to a group of twenty-two government research and litigation attorneys. Their responsibility was to review every lawsuit filed by a government employee.

I was brought in to address some of the issues that they were having through a full-day motivational training program covering, among other things, the psychology of optimism. Things weren't exactly peachy in our nation's capital. Little did I know I was to receive a gift, albeit wrapped in barbed wire, but nonetheless a very powerful gift from this gut check experience.

Fear gripped me when I began projecting how I would be received by this group of critical thinkers. As I started my presentation the mood was silent and a bit stoic. Thirty minutes later...