Be Aware, Be Grateful

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in the US and it is a day to reflect and celebrate the blessings of life.  One of the problems with Thanksgiving is the tendency to go the opposite direction and start feeling bad because you haven’t reached all the goals you think you should have at this point in your life.  Perhaps the neighbor has a new car or a better house. Perhaps you’ve never traveled the world and seen the pyramids or the Taj Mahal.  Perhaps you have little money socked away for retirement because you’ve got kids in school and you’ve spent your life working for them.  Perhaps it looks like you really haven’t done much in your life.

However, don’t be so fast to lose hope and go through the motions on Thanksgiving without really getting the true joy out of it.  You see, being grateful is really about awareness, taking stock of the things in your life that matter.  The joy in it is gaining an understanding that the things you have in your life are far less important than the people you have in your life.  Think about that.  Look around you.  Who is in your life?  Do you have family, colleagues at work, friends?  Think of the time you’ve spent on this planet, how much of the time that made a difference was with people rather than things?

Tomorrow, or even today, take some time to look around and be aware, aware of all of the human beings who have made your life what it is rather than the things that have only cluttered it and made you worry more.  Maybe it’s time for all of us to declutter and thin out the stuff of life in order to fill it with more of the things that make a difference, namely relationships where we can make a difference or where they can make a difference for us.

Give thanks, be grateful and let the relationships you have make the difference, not the stuff you don’t have.

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Think

I saw this acronym on a poster at my son’s doctor’s office the other day.

Sounds like an easy way of making the workplace, or any place, a better place to be.  If we could all pay heed and think before we speak, or post, think of how much less friction there would be.  Instead of engaging in communication based on assumptions or rumor and speaking things to break down rather than build up, how much better would your office be?

Thinking before speaking, a concept whose time has come.

Are You Empowering Or Commanding?

Leaders should be guiding others to be better today than they were yesterday.  This ensures a team of people who are fully equipped to accomplish the mission.  The secret to this isn’t terribly complicated but it isn’t necessarily a natural practice for many. More common is for leaders to command while followers listen and try to comply. However, this is not consistently successful and causes a lot of angst, mistakes, “do overs,” and misunderstandings.

It would do well for many leaders to take a lesson from craftsmen. Go by any construction site and you will see apprentices who work alongside the master craftsman learning the trade and practicing it until they, in turn, master the craft and are able to pass it along to others themselves. This model looks something like this:

  • I do it – and you watch.
  • You do it – and I watch.
  • You do it.

Anyone familiar with the Hersey/Blanchard Situational Leadership model will recognize this.  The leader begins by acting as a teacher who shows and tells a learner who is motivated but lacks the knowledge of the task at hand.  Once the learner has a basic understanding, they then try the task.  If they fail, which they most likely will, the leader then asks questions and coaches them until they reach a reasonable level of success.  From there, the learner can go it alone while the leader provides ongoing support.

This model of guiding, asking and supporting (GAS) is a simple way to engage people to be empowered to do more, think more and move toward leadership themselves.  This is the goal, a team of leaders who can think for themselves and move in unity to accomplish the mission.

Try it.  Lead well.

For When You’re Losing Drive

Do you ever have times where you feel your work or pursuits are failing or are not recognized and you want to give up?  I think we all get into times where this haunts us and I would love to be able to provide my own words of great wisdom but I have chosen instead to defer to Theodore Roosevelt on this one.  Here are words to put somewhere so that whenever you feel unrecognized or failing, you can read them, and as Teddy puts it, dare greatly.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”  – Theodore Roosevelt