A teacher once took two students out into the hall. To one, she put a pebble in the student’s shoe. To the other she put a piece of candy in the student’s mouth. She then asked both to go back into the classroom and walk around.
How do you think their walk was? Did you think of the sweet candy or only on the painful rock?
Gratitude is a feeling of appreciation and thankfulness for the blessings or benefits we have received. As we cultivate a grateful attitude we are more likely to be happy and influence those around us.
When you think of a great leader in your life, chances are that they demonstrated gratitude for you and your work. Gratitude is a characteristic of a great leader.
As I became a parent, I watched our children open presents. When they were one, getting the wrapping paper off the gift was all they cared about. When they were two, opening the present was all they cared about. Later in life, they looked forward to what was inside. I am now starting to see a shift, albeit a small one as they are teenagers. They are starting to care more about the giver than the gift itself.
To feel gratitude is the first step. Are we able to think about how we would feel if someone or something were taken away from us?
The second step is to show gratitude. Tell someone. Thank someone. Write a note to someone. While eulogies are always about someone, expressing gratitude is always to someone.
I had a neighbor who each year selected individuals in her life that meant something to her. She would carefully draft a letter of gratitude to those individuals being specific in what and why she was grateful for them. My wife and I once received one of those letters. Reading it brought tears to our eyes for the very generous expression of gratitude for the piece of her life we shared with her. There was joy in the expression of gratitude for the giver and joy in receiving it.
I would challenge you to express your gratitude frequently. Start with a conversation or a note to a family member. Then a friend. Then a customer. Then a neighbor. Then a teacher. Then…you get the picture. Send it to them and make their day. Grow your relationship. Make gratitude a habit.
I am extremely grateful for supportive family, wonderful clients and good friends.
I am amazed at the talents that people have. I recently walked through a gallery which was showing works painted by Sir Winston Churchill. In my eye, some were better than others but they were each beautiful. Later in his life he took up the hobby of painting and never considered himself any good. He painted about 500 pieces that are known. 400 or so of them are in a National Trust for the people of England. The remaining are held by family and collectors. Whether the scarcity of available works or because of who he was and what he did when he was not painting – each of the paintings shown in the gallery had a for sale sign of more than $1.5 million dollars.
I like to paint as well and like Winston, I don’t consider myself very good at it. I am proud of some of the pieces I have finished but I still am hard on myself.
Whether we consider ourselves creative people or not, we are all creators. We create, day by day, our own futures. Life is about creating and making the kind of life we want. We are unable to control every aspect of our lives and we each go through trials we would never choose if given the choice. We are, however given opportunities to step up, rise up and grow through our challenges and make something of ourselves and our lives.
“God left a world unfinished for [men and women] to work [their] skill upon,” Alan Stockdale wrote. “He left the electricity still in the cloud, the oil still in the earth. He left the rivers unbridged and the forests unfelled and the cities unbuilt. God gave to [us] the challenge of raw materials, not the ease of finished things. He left the problems unsolved and the pictures unpainted and the music unsung that [we] might know the joys and glories of creation.”
I love this quote as it provides a glimpse of the value of work and the value of creating. We can each make a better world and better futures – this is our common goal.
Creating is never easy. We must take responsibility and word hard to make things happen. We have to remain positive and see the opportunities rather than only problems.
Lloyd Newell said, “With that approach to the world, almost anything is possible. We need only to put our mind and heart to the artistic work of creating our lives.” And to that I would add our families and our businesses.
What are you going to create today?
Rick Rigsby or Frank Leahy or someone else (the internet attributes this quote to many different people) once said, “Ego is the anesthesia that deadens the pain of stupidity. “
I use this quote to remind me to take a long, hard look at myself now and then. Have I been stupid in the past? You better believe it. Have I done stupid things? Strike two. Will I do something stupid in the future? Chances are better than in Vegas. Will I learn from my mistakes and stupidity? I have and certainly hope to continue.
We don’t have to be overtly selfish to let our ego get in the way. Whenever we are inwardly focused, we fuel our ego. When we are outwardly focused, we tame it. Whenever we spend energy and time to try to hide our stupidity, we are applying the anesthesia.
May I suggest three exercises to let our stupidity shine and give us a chance to become better and learn from ourselves. We can spend time with those who are different from us. We can seek feedback and use that feedback to grow and improve. We can change.
Do we have a group of people who are smart, talented, gifted and from varied backgrounds we surround ourselves with? Do we seek their input and ideas? Some people use a coach. Some setup advisory boards. Some people sit in a different chair each time in class. Doing things on purpose to be surrounded by people who are different from you will give you the chance to learn from others.
Do we ask for feedback from our teams, family members, and customers even if it might be hard to swallow? Do we use that feedback to make changes and be better? Some people perform 360 evaluations. Some ask for net promotor scores. Some take the time to have a real conversation about their experience with you. Purposefully seeking feedback from others and using that feedback to improve shows others you value them.
Are we really willing to change? Do we make and follow a plan to change? Do we really want what that change will bring? We might as well skip the first two exercises if we don’t do anything with what we learn from them.
Join me in letting our stupidity show and becoming smarter and better because we did something about it.
This blog allows you to experience the raw, gut wrenching drama of human conflict through accounting in each of its three stages: preparing to do battle, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.