A sense of doom and gloom now hangs over our lives like a black cloud. The laundry list of daily downers seems endless: shrinking earnings that in turn lead to massive layoffs; Wall Street's bear market; Mad Cow disease; skyrocketing energy costs and California's energy crisis; endless violence in the Mideast.Worrying about how long it will take your investment portfolios to recover, or whether the burger you ate for lunch will make you insane, isn't beneficial for your mental health or your job. Staying focused is the key to success, as many baseball superstars will attest to.

I don't profess to be as enamored about baseball as George Will is, but the start of a new baseball season is a reason to be optimistic about the future. In April, the days begin to grow warmer and longer, a fact that any Chicago resident can tell you is a major source of optimism after a long, dreary winter. All baseball teams, including perennial basement dwellers like the Chicago Cubs, enter a new baseball season with the belief that they can win the World Series.

I have a renewed sense of optimism and appreciation for baseball this season because the team I grew up with, the Milwaukee Brewers, are playing in a new facility with a retractable dome. Although Miller Park's construction was the source of aggravation for taxpayers in the region, and tragedy last year when three construction workers were killed, it has become a great source of pride for residents of Wisconsin and Brewer fans. Realistically, the Brewers don't have any chance of making the playoffs anytime soon, but Miller Park is an accomplishment that has lifted the lives of many people.

It's easy to retrench in an economic downturn; that's a natural reaction for conservative business leaders. But visionaries who remain focused on the long-term goals of their organizations, and who remain optimistic even during the most difficult of times, will lead their companies to the forefront of a market where competition will devour the meek. And that's why carriers and other financial services providers have to forget about their troubles and stay focused on future. My advice is this: Don't worry. Be happy.

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