Friday, November 25, 2016

Living A Life of Graditude

By the time you read this, the smell of turkey, the recent conversations and laughter with friends and family, along with your reflections of gratitude are becoming your most recent of memories. Thanksgiving has a way of making us feel “full”.  Certainly it fills us with great food, but it has a way of filling us with joy and hope as we take time to count our untold blessings. It allows us the time to appreciate our loved ones, our communities, our workplace, and helps us re-prioritize what it is that matters the most in our lives.

Sadly, too many times Thanksgiving is much like that great  conference we attend during the year. We reflect, become rejuvenated with new aspirations, only to slide back into our same routine in the weeks that follow. 

Recently, I came across a post in ContantLeadership that compiled 10 quotes revolving around the importance of gratitude throughout the year from various sources across the web.  The intent was for the reader to consider living a life of gratitude to aid in our quest to become better leaders, spouses, parents, colleagues and friends to the people who most matter in our lives. 

“For something to change in your life, one of two things has to happen: your life changes, or you do.” 

This post from Entrepreneur Magazine acts as a rallying call-to-action to adopt a “practice of gratitude” throughout the year. The author argues that changing our attitude to focus on the positive can transport us from a mindset of victimhood to a mindset of action, especially in the face of adversity. 

“I found myself losing the ‘me’ perspective and gaining a ‘we’ perspective.”

In this uplifting piece, Author Jamelle Sanders reflects on the power of gratitude in the wake of a friend’s tragic accident. His ruminations on how gratitude can quiet the ego and manifest success in your life are a much-needed reminder.

“It’s gratitude that draws people together, builds trust, and strengthens ties.”

This compelling post from Michael Hyatt uses research to teach us four tangible ways gratitude can improve our lives; some research presented here even suggests gratitude can not only strengthen, but lengthen, your life!

“If you stick to your practice – even if it’s not ‘heart-felt’ in the beginning – eventually it transforms into true gratitude.”

This post gets tactical with gratitude, providing the reader with seven immediately applicable ways to begin a practice of thanks giving. The author acknowledges it can be difficult to feel thankful in the face of problems and roadblocks — but she provides real-world strategies we can all use to begin authentically giving thanks even when the going gets tough.

“Some people grumble that roses have thorns. I am grateful that thorns have roses.” 

Leadership author Skip Prichard compiles 28 thought-provoking quotes culled from an assortment of great minds — from Cicero to Oprah. A quick read that adds more than a little food for thought to your Thanksgiving table.

“Cultivating gratitude doesn’t cost any money and it certainly doesn’t take much time, but the benefits are enormous.”

While some of the positive effects of gratitude are well documented, a few compiled here may surprise you.  One study cited in this post even suggests gratitude may help you sleep better.

“Gratitude, honor, and recognition are so much deeper and more powerful than just saying thanks.”

Dan Rockwell challenges us to go beyond the words “thank you” to find more robust and heartfelt ways to express our gratitude and honor people’s accomplishments. This is a timely reminder to find as many ways as possible to express appreciation.

“Few things are more heartwarming than bearing witness to one human being expressing deep gratitude for the profound, course-altering impact another has played in her or his life.” 

Herein lies as elegantly and articulately expressed a ‘thank you’ as you’ll ever read. Although sometimes composing the right message of gratitude can be difficult — Camus (a literary giant), not surprisingly, finds just the right words. It’s a nice homage to mentorship and friendship.

“The benefits of gratitude go far beyond doing something because it’s the ‘right thing’ to do.”

While this post echoes many of the benefits featured in the other posts, we like that it explicitly calls out the need for a nobler reason for expressing gratitude. Eikenberry warns us that if we embark on a practice of giving thanks only because we’re supposed to, or in hopes of a ”quid pro quo,” that our efforts may be dead on arrival.

“We have to constantly remind ourselves to look for ‘what’s right’ in our lives instead of ‘what’s wrong.'”

This quick read reminds us to be diligent in resisting the scarcity mindset that prefers looking for “either,” “or.” Eker emphasizes that being grateful for what you have does not mean you are being complacent — you can be both grateful for what you’ve accomplished today and want to push to be better tomorrow. This post helps to frame gratitude as an abundance mindset.

So my friends…enjoy the sense of “fullness” Thanksgiving brings…being full of gratitude can be a year long celebration for everyone to enjoy…

Be good to yourself…

Friday, November 18, 2016


I’ve been trying desperately to come up with some words of wisdom in the aftermath of events which are swirling about since the presidential election.  It’s in uncertain times like these which leaders must emerge as the masses need and want direction, a focus, a dream to conceive and achieve.  This is the exact time when a true leader acts as that beacon of light in the thick fog drawing those in who have been swept out with the dangerous tide.

For the past several days, Kipling’s poem “If” has been swirling in my head. I continue to be mesmerized by his words and their profound meaning and inspiration to me personally as a leader. Each of the poem’s sixteen couplets illustrates a leadership attribute, and together they provide a leadership framework on which to reflect, refine and reignite. Take a moment and read for yourself and renew your spirit to fuel and propel those you lead, forward.

If you can keep your head when all about you  
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,  
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;  
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;  
 If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;  
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;  
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,  
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,  
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute 
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,  
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,  
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son! LEADER!

Be good to yourself…

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more; you are a leader. - John Quincy Adams

Friday, November 11, 2016

Go Cubs...GO!

Although a lifetime Chicago White Sox fan, I couldn’t help but be wrapped up in all the excitement and drama offered by our crosstown rivals, The World Champion Chicago Cubs. Now that the ringing in my ears from last of the fireworks has subsided, the last of the ticker tape swept from the city streets, and our minds begin to once again focus on our daily routines, I thought it pertinent to reflect on a few lessons learned.

1. Leadership comes in all different shapes and sizes, whether from “the skipper” or from a member of the organization that calls everyone together during a rain delay to help refocus, re-energize and reignite. Lesson learned – sometimes a message is better heard from within rather than from on top. Cultivate leadership in your organization.

2. Hope is a STRONG motivator to move people forward no matter the circumstances. Lesson learned – No matter the situation, followers NEED a glimmer of hope so that despair doesn’t overtake their ability to move forward. Keep hope alive.

3. Emotion plays a vital role in our performance. Lesson learned – Finding a balance in our emotions and “keeping your eye on the prize” is essential to perform productively. Breathe in and out…Keep Calm and…(fill in the blank).

4. Establishing LOYALTY doesn’t cost anything, yet it’s worth EVERYTHING. I think we can all agree that the Chicago Cubs have some of the most loyal fans in the country. Lesson learned – never take loyalty for granted, it must be fostered and celebrated.

5. Having FUN and bringing true joy to others makes all the efforts well worth the struggles experienced along the way. Lesson learned – Joy is priceless…can’t be bought…it can make us believe in the impossible and carry us further than we ever expected.

6. Life IS a journey…not a destination. Lesson learned – Celebrate today, but ask what’s in store tomorrow? How do we keep things moving in the right direction? Trust me, the Cleveland Indians are preparing for “next year” TODAY!

Be good to yourself…

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Value of a Bumper Sticker

There are times I fear that our generation will be judged by the writings glued to the rear of our vehicles as future sociologists scratch their head searching for their meaning. These brief pearls of wisdom, poke fun at the establishment, show support or disdain, offer a good hardy laugh, or a punch to the gut. At times their messages are poignant, at times obscure.

 As I was sitting in traffic last week, one such tidbit caught my eye. The message was short, to the point and reminded me of the importance human interaction plays in leadership. No matter our line of work, no matter our product or service, we all are in a people business; we all lead fellow humans to a destination some never knew existed. Sometimes we tend to look too much at the final outcome or product versus embracing and understanding the needs of those we serve.

Here’s one bumper sticker that gave me pause to ponder and hope that future sociologists will look favorably on our generation.

Be good to yourself and to those you serve.