Chapter 19: Laugh Often

Laugh Often

I felt honored to serve as a consultant. They called me that once, though that wasn’t my name or official title. I was just a guy with some experience related to the topic the company gathered to talk about. Four of us brought the people side. The others offered the business side. We worked well together thinking and discussing dreams, possibilities, ideas, trends, drifts, systems, needs, numbers, statistics, and stories.

As we moved closer to the end of one set of meetings, the leader wanted to hear from us. It was time to be honest to the group. What did we think? Would these ideas work? Would strategies succeed? Would needs be met?

He instructed us to give three honest assessments of our research meetings. He told us the order we would go. I would be the last one.

Most of the comments were positive, optimistic. People saw the needs. People saw how these new strategies and devices might help meet those needs. A few of my friends asked questions. The practical side. The financial side. The legal and compliance side. The how-long-would-this-take-to-become- a-reality side.

They were moving closer to me.

I was watching the faces of our leader and his team. They seemed pleased, at least at that time.

I like to plan, and I wanted to voice my assessment. It seemed like that would be my best chance to talk. To the whole team. While everyone listened. I looked at my devices, but my notes were in my mind. I knew what I wanted to say.

Two more people spoke before me. I asked myself, “Should I do this?” I can’t remember all the details of what those two said. But I remember my own answer to myself. “Yes. Do it.”

So, I did.

I am usually the encourager, the positive, the listener, the gentle leader offering a win/win. They expected that from me. Maybe that’s why I was set to go last.

That’s not what they got.

My facial expression didn’t include my normal smile. The serious countenance was only the beginning.

I can’t remember my exact words. But after I thanked them for including patients like us and for seeking new ways to improve their industry’s efficiency, I summarized my disappointment. My tone was harsh. My eyes stared at the leader whose skin was quickly turning as red as his hair.

“This just won’t work for real patients like us. Your theories can’t become realities. I am sorry, but I feel like we wasted our time and our money to be here.”

I said, “And, one more thing,” then paused, with the same look on my face.

“Today is an important date. I think it is vital that we all remember it.”

I waited briefly, though it seemed like a long time. My friend was even more red as he stared my direction. My patient friends were looking away, unable to believe nice-guy-Chris was being the bad guy.

I said, “Today is April Fool’s Day and I just fooled each of you. Everything I said negatively about our days together was false.” I tried to then tell them all the positives about our brainstorming, but they were facing so many storms no one could hear my kind words.

They were tricked.

And they laughed.

Whenever we meet, they still tell that story. They still laugh.

My friend still turns red.

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  1. When is the last time you laughed so much you could hardly stop?
  2. What caused you to laugh?
  3. How often do you laugh?
  4. What steps can you take to bring more laughter into your routine?


We live a dark and confusing world. Maxwell’s prose and his poetry are just the antidote you’ve been looking for—creative, a bit capricious, and wonderfully uplifting.

Dr. Mark Rutland

Executive Director, National Institute of Christian Leadership