Yesterday I spent the morning on the campus of Emory University at the Goizueta School of Business. Named for Roberto Goizueta, former Chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola, it is a beautiful place. I was there with Joanne McRae, a talented photographer, to have photos taken for my forthcoming book.

Joanne encouraged me to be enthusiastic and animated. This sort of encouragement is not something I need often but somehow a camera pointed in my direction leads me to hold back, even cringe.

Two things happened that triggered me to be more animated.

First, there were dozens of people, nicely dressed, taking photos; posing, laughing and having fun. It is graduation time and the celebration was on! I thought about how happy it would make Mr. Goizueta to see this happening in the shadow of the school named for him.

Second, while Joanne was doing something with her camera lens that I won’t pretend to understand, a group approached on the sidewalk behind me. They started joking with me about “photo bombing” and a quick, fun exchange ensued.

The photograph above tells the tale. When I saw it, a few thoughts came to mind:

It looks fun

How many times do we kill off our own exuberance?
How often do we let others quash our exuberance?
What is the cost when leaders kill it?

Exuberance is emotional energy. It may look unbridled, even immature. Cynics will criticize it as worthless; critics will talk about whether or not it is real; and those who cannot muster their own, will demean it. Get these people out of your life and your business.

When I was a stockbroker, many of my colleagues were unhappy, though highly compensated people. In graduate school I encountered people who were seeking status, often with grim determination. The realization dawned — we must create our right place, our best future. First, we need the realization.

Sculpting the future starts with a decision

If you want your future, or the future of your company to be different and you are stuck, let’s talk about getting you the energy you need to make the tough decisions.

I think about the energy it takes to build and sustain brands, like Coke. While Roberto Goizueta was CEO, the company came up with the slogan “Coke is it!”, among others. That’s exuberance.

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