“Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.” Brian Tracy
It is the eve of Thanksgiving here in my town, the holiday where we come together with loved ones, pause, and give thanks for our lives. We can give thanks for the people in our lives, our health, the experiences we’ve had, the food, shelter, football, or whatever else is nipping at our gratitude heels. It seems to be the one time where we all truly pause and give thanks.
I want to pause and invite you to truly embrace gratitude but not just because it is thanksgiving, or it sounds good, is in fashion or will magically create riches for your future. There are no short cuts or magic tricks in creating a successful and rewarding life. I want to invite you to embrace gratitude so it can become your secret super success weapon in your leadership arsenal.
You see, life truly is a series of experiences. Each experience builds on another experience. How we choose to respond to each experience allows us to set a course for our lives. You may have heard great thought leaders like Albert Schweitzer say that we just don’t think. Instead, we just respond to the day and mindlessly go about bouncing off the circumstances that present themselves to us. James Allen discusses in his essay published in 1908, “As a Man Thinketh” that we become what we think about most of the time. Earl Nightingale also began popularizing this thought along with the likes of Napoleon Hill, Viktor Frankel and many others who figured out that we truly do tend to become our thoughts. What we think and how we think impacts our present which in turn creates our future.
I am not so naive as to think that you are not without some challenges in your life. Everyone goes through some intense times in their lives. In fact, some of the most interesting and accomplished people that I know and have studied have overcome real life challenges and heart splitting lows, (myself included). When all looks up, gratitude may feel more accessible. When our hearts and minds are low, gratitude can feel like a tricky cliche. I want you to know that whether you are standing on your mountain top in the journey of life, or feeling so low that you are looking up at the curb, whatever you are feeling is legitimate, important and valid. If life feels awesome, then take it in. Savor it! If times are tough, then go slowly and keep breathing. You are where you are and I honor your joy, happiness as well as grief, pain or ambivalence. But do hear this- whatever you are feeling, it is temporary.
What does this all have to do with gratitude? Things happen in our lives. Some good. Some bad. Some seem insignificant in the moment. Some events seem to take over out lives. Our thoughts formulate our beliefs which then inform our responses to these occurrences. Being actively and consciously grateful allows us the super leadership weapon to acknowledge that this occurrence is truly setting us up for another opportunity. Something good MUST come from every circumstance even if you cannot see it in the moment. Your job as a leader is to seek it, believe it then leverage it.
Does this mean that if something terrible happened that you should be happy about it? OH HECK NO! I have experienced dreadful occurrences in my life. I am not happy that they happened and no amount of gratitude will shift the pain and sadness that can occur with major life loss. However, those occurrences have helped me to develop skills and capacity for dealing with challenges, both mine and those of others. For those skills, I am grateful as they continue to help me work with leaders as they navigate their own rough waters.
So whether you are in pain or joy, be grateful for the opportunities that you have and for those good things that are coming. What you think and how you think are key. Think you’re just lucky? Then you may not work to keep building your leadership skills. Think you’re screwed and you’ll stay right there. Watch what you think. No matter what, be grateful that you have the opportunity that you have. Know that there is some learning in this opportunity that you can leverage either now or in the future. Believe it and you stand a better chance to achieve it. You may not see it yet, but keep climbing and give thanks along the way.
As always, thank you for reading. Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts and theories with you. I am truly grateful. I welcome your comments. Please share with other readers in the comments section below.
your fan, coach and friend,
Larysa Slobodian, MA
Executive Coach and Leadership Consultant