Home > Leadership Lessons, personal development, Perspective, Positive Mindset, Professional Development, Success > What The Dollar Bill Trick Can Teach Us About Leadership

What The Dollar Bill Trick Can Teach Us About Leadership


Image courtesy of WikiHow

When I was a kid, I’ve learned a very neat trick about making paper money smile or frown. The trick was very simple that I picked it up real quick and showed it to a few of my friends. I did use the Philippine Peso to try out this trick when I was a kid instead of a US dollar bill. If you are not familiar with this trick, check out this video to see how it is done.

While the video has garnered a large number of views and likes on YouTube for being cool, I think there is a better lesson to be learned from the trick. While on the bus one day, I showed my son this very trick that I have learned more than 30 years ago. After showing the trick to my son, I asked him to make the face on the dollar bill smile or frown. And while he was having fun with what he was doing, I told him this very important lesson.

“It’s the same dollar bill, nothing has changed. What changed was how you handled it.” Tweet this

We are faced with different challenges everyday – bills needing to be paid for, projects that need to be completed on time, or even as worse as dealing with an industry-wide crisis. Situations may or may not change but understand that we hold in our hands the key to whether or not we end up being happy or otherwise. Great leaders know that when facing challenges, they need to do the following:

  1. Face reality. The dollar bill trick reveals two faces – smiling and frowning. That is the reality that they need to face. Leaders understand that in order to deal with challenges, they need to get the facts right and face reality. Otherwise, they would be living in an illusion and may not be able to measure the enormity of the situation. I call this the “reality check.”
  2. Take Responsibility. In order for the dollar trick to work, you need to pick up the dollar bill and tilt it yourself. Otherwise, the visual illusion would not be as effective. Leaders know that they need take personal responsibility for their situation. They literally put their necks on the line especially when the stakes are high.
  3. Make Positive Moves. I bet that you smiled when you tilted the dollar bill to make it smile. And I also bet that you made it smile more that you’ve made it frown. Leaders know that they need to keep a positive environment and promote hope in spite of the realities that they need to face. A pat on the back, a good word of encouragement, even to a point where they remind themselves of the good things that have happened to them in the past. They understood the power of feeding their mind good stuff.

In case you want to try out the dollar bill trick, remember how you can handle a challenging situation while making those creases on George Washington’s eyes.

Question: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from dealing with a challenging situation? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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