As we celebrate another Thanksgiving in the US, we look back on the past year and, in many cases, see only the frustrations, hurdles, and challenges we’ve experienced as a nation and in our businesses and organizatins. For many, the government shutdown in September symbolized the difficulties of the past year and exactly how much is often out of our control. This was a year of economic turmoil, tumultuous change and what seemed like constant political arguing. It may be hard to look back and be thankful, and yet, what if we make the decision to be thankful? What would we be thankful for?
1. When we see the whole, rather than the individual parts, there is much to be thankful for. As an entrepreneur I learned long ago that it’s important to focus on trends, rather than any individual month. The same is true for our organizations. What have been our real gains this year? Where have we innovated and shown great creativity? What new relationships have been formed through our teaming initiatives? What decisions have proven to be wise ones? Where have we surprised our customers with the value of our products or services?
2. When we separate the must-haves from the want-to-haves, we can see things differently. We’ve learned how to want instant gratification for everything and to find anything that taxes our patience as frustrating and debilitating. That’s because our must-haves and our want-to-haves have become one, huge list. This year we have had to make many difficult decisions as a business, including the laying off of key staff, yet the doors of the business are still open and we are still functioning. Our must-haves have been achieved; our want-to-haves have fallen short. I’m thankful for the must-haves at this point.
3. When all is said and done, the relationships matter most. Every year provides us with opportunities to create new relationships with our customers and partners and to strengthen and deepen our existing ones. As executive coaches and change agents, we often see our customers at their most vulnerable moments. The sense of trust and confidence they place in our relationship is exceptional and very valued by us. To be able to make that kind of difference makes us exceedingly thankful. We also have been gifted with new partnerships and collaborations that energize and excite us.
4. A right, true and genuine path is a great gift. When we look at extremes like Mayor Ford of Toronto or Miley Cyrus’ and her over-the-top marketing strategy, it’s easy to see ourselves as downright humdrum. After all, we’re not having tantrums, doing extreme behaviors, or experiencing wardrobe malfunctions that draw the attention of others. Instead, we show up every day on time and go to work; we take care of our families, pay off our credit cards and get the oil changed in our cars. We stay on a right, true and genuine path. I, for one, am thankful for that, regardless of how un-newsworthy it may be. I think we sleep better for it.
5. We’re thankful that we only need the next step, not the whole thing. So often we wish for a crystal ball that would let us know the outcomes of all our decisions and show us the best way. But, in truth, the journey is much more insightful than the destination. And the journey is really about just the next step, followed by the next step. It’s easy to be thankful that we don’t need to have the whole thing mapped out, as it would be overwhelming, especially in a world of constant change. But just having the next step feels sane and doable. We’re thankful for that.
Well, this might be a different “thankful” list than what we’ve created in the past, but we wanted to offer something thoughtful and even provocative. Being thankful is a place of humility and it changes us. We encourage you to think outside the box and come up with your own special areas of thankfulness. Have a wonderful holiday.