I know we’ve all had days when everything seems to go against us.
The days when we feel like we’re struggling to not let all the hard things crush us. I had one of those recently when a difficult personality wanted to ruin my day. I am glad that in one of those difficult moments, I remembered that I had a choice – I could fight back and meet that person with the same hate she was spewing into my life, or I could look at it from a different perspective.
I took a few minutes to pause and shuffle through the cards I keep at my desk. I landed on the one that reminded me, “Stop fighting yourself! Let it be EASY!” Easy to me means walking away (or running that day!) and letting go of the negativity. Instead, I chose to see all the beauty around me. I was surrounded that day with a spouse and daughter who adore me and give me so many reasons to be grateful.
As leaders, we have many decisions to make. How we respond to tough situations and difficult personalities plays a big part in our role as leaders. I remind my clients that, as leaders, we have a lot of eyes watching us to see what example we’re setting. Sometimes we get swept up in the negativity and forget that we don’t have to partake in it; we don’t have to respond in kind. Instead, we can turn and walk away.
In this Thanksgiving season, I wanted to share three things that have helped me navigate rough roads in my own leadership journey and give thanks that there is much to learn on those roads.
1. Serve someone
Fulton J. Sheen, a Bishop in the Catholic Church, once said, “Help someone in distress and you lighten your own burden; the very joy of alleviating the sorrow of another is the lessening of one’s own.” On that recent hard day, my daughter needed a ride to a friend’s home. I had the opportunity to drop her off and to visit with her friend’s mom, who is also my friend. While I was there another friend came in to drop her daughter off. I knew this friend was walking a tough road with a sweet relative who is dying of cancer and, as she yawned, I told her that I would bring her daughter home that night so she could go home and rest. My day ended filled with gratitude that I could be there for my friend. If you make it your mission to seek out and do things that can help someone else, I promise it will make a difference in your own life.
2. Change your perspective
When something doesn’t go as planned, instead of allowing negative energy to consume you, make a decision to let your situation be as easy as identifying something you are grateful for that day. It is interesting that when we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change. Find the positive in life and use that to shift your outlook in that moment.
3. Find happiness through thanksgiving
The secret to having it all begins with knowing you already do! Some of the most successful people in the world are unhappy. They paint on their smile and hope no one looks beneath the surface. I have seen this in action many times. They have everything that most of us can only dream of, yet they are miserable. On the other hand, some of the happiest people I know are those who have the least and are grateful for what they have. Life really changes once we have the ability to be thankful for the things money can’t buy.
As you begin to celebrate another Thanksgiving holiday, remember to say “thank you” to the people in your life who have made an impact. They likely don’t realize the contribution they have made in your life. This spirit of gratitude will make a difference in your life.