Posts Tagged ‘Gratitude’

Gratitude the Grease for Life

Gears Mike Hoff

This week, I offer a quick reminder in support of your Thanksgiving Day celebration. Actually, this simple exercise is effective whenever you need to shift your thinking about your Story or someone in your Story.

Perhaps you are frustrated because of unfulfilled expectations. Maybe you dropped the ball or missed the mark. Or something happened in your Story that “isn’t fair.”

Create space to build perspective, to think, or re-consider your Story. Use this reflective exercise and watch what happens.

Get started

Take your journal or a piece of paper and complete this statement:

         Today, I’m grateful for…(List at least seven things.)

Add more grease

Question ONE: Where are you frustrated?Where does life not seem fair today? What disappoints you right now?

Now, complete the following:

When it comes to (name the situation) I’m grateful …

Question TWO: Think of someone you are frustrated with, at odds with, or in conflict with …

Complete the following:

When I think of (person) I appreciate ______________

Gratitude and appreciation grease the gears of life.

Use liberally to support a positive outlook on your Story. Simple but effective; repeat daily.

Grateful for you,


How to counter-attack fear

Basingstoke Office Staff Desk "No computer"

Alan Webber sat at the end of the boardroom table. After a lot of hard work, he had landed an interview with former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt for Harvard Business Review.

“I’ve got my questions written,” he thought running through his mental checklist. “Recorder is set, last thing I need is a technical glitch and miss this whole thing. Man, this jet lag is killing me – what was I thinking…?”

And with that fear began its subtle assault.

His mind fully cooperated, “What will the editor think if I screw up this interview? What would happen to my job? What if Helmut Schmidt thinks my questions are stupid? What if…?”

Game changer

Fear is the defeater of many initiatives: make the phone call. Launch the project. Re-engage the strained relationship. Speak up in the meeting. Fear challenges forward progress in ordinary work of life on a daily basis.

Here are three steps to support your victory over fear:

  1. Gratitude – What is the unique opportunity before you? How is the problem, challenge or assignment an opportunity? What are you grateful for in this situation?
  2. Smile – Bring smile power to your aid. As Leo Widrich points out, “Smiling reduces stress that your body and mind feel … (it) helps to generate more positive emotions within you.” Smile fear in the face.
  3. Let go – What happens when you try to control something or someone who is out of your control? You lose control, self-control. Lack of self-control leads to unproductive behavior. The need to control produces frustration, which fertilizes your fear.

What if it doesn’t go as you expected? What if it does?

First you, then the others

Victory over fear resides within you. Gratitude re-sets perspective, smiling generates positive emotion, and releasing control liberates you to expand your influence. Your victory over fear builds a positive environment for your team.

In his book, Out of the Crisis, W. Edwards Deming offered fourteen key principles for transforming business effectiveness. One of his management principles states:

Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company.

Fear not only gets in your way but also creates a fear-based workplace. Fear of failure destroys freedom and innovation. The fear of doing it wrong disengages a team and hinders productivity. Fear limits progress.

Alan took his note pad and wrote across the top of the page:

Relax! Smile! This is a blessing, a treat, and an honor. It’s not a punishment to be endured.

Just then, the door opened and Helmut Schmidt walked in for the interview.

 We shook hands. I introduced myself and briefly explained the project. I got ready to ask my first question. But first I smiled. He smiled back.  (Rules of Thumb,  p. 4)

Where is fear having its way with you and holding you back? Think of the situation.

What are you grateful for? Make your list of 3 – 5 things.


Smile again…

Ready to let go? How will you exert influence instead of trying to control?

Here’s to your victory!


PS: Addressing fear and overcoming is just one of the skills we practice in Next Generation Leaders team-based coaching.  If you’d like to see more details of how we unite employees into teams of self-managed leaders, see the team-based coaching page.

Photo credit: Cross Duck via Compfight

What don’t you see?

Looking outside

To explore the world outside you requires a change of pace and perspective; yes, an open heart and mind.

So, how curious are you about what lies outside you? What about the people you work with, curious about their weekend? What about the work you do, wonder how to be more effective?

What might you be missing?

What inspires and recharges your batteries? Now, how often do you engage in those activities?

What might happen if you create a little space to see, to think, to notice … to breathe?

Here’s to seeing life and the people in your story with new eyes  with appreciation and gratitude.

May you be filled with awe today,


What’s the nitty-gritty behind successful people?

secret tip of pinewood derby: sand your car

Imagine an old table. The current finish covers three other layers of paint hiding the beautiful red oak grain. Your goal: to restore the natural wood with a hand rubbed finish.

The paint surrenders to the abrasive aluminum oxide 60-grit sandpaper. With time, the wood grain is revealed confirming the value of your second-hand store snag.

The oak wood has smaller imperfections requiring additional preparation. You grab a sheet of 120-grit sandpaper. Energized by the progress the surface is ready for the stain, sealer, and finish coat.

The vision breaks into the reality of a dusty workplace.

Speaking of goal achievement

We are in season of new beginnings and fresh starts. It’s time to re-visit the dream or dream again. As you engage the moment, may I encourage you to create space for reflection on Chapter 2013 first? Remember that

The Best Predictor of Future Success

is the ability and willingness to learn and change,

achieved through consistent reflection

on truth found in the Story.

Come on, let’s celebrate!

Unleashing a heart of gratitude it’s time to rehearse and celebrate your 2013 achievements. How easy it is to magnify the misses and those times we fell short. What happens if we do? We lose the encouragement and energy that comes from making progress.

When will you create space to celebrate your victories?

What to do to get there

As you dream about Chapter 2014 in your story, here’s some help regarding how to reach your goals. In her book 9 Things Successful People Do Differently, Heidi Grant Halvorson offers strategies that support high performance.   Here are the 9 things:

  1.  Get specific – What does success look like for you?
  2.  Seize the moment to act – pre-determine what you will do, when, and where you will take action
  3.  Know exactly how far you have left to go – monitor your progress
  4.  Be a realistic optimist – see the obstacles and prepare how you will overcome them
  5.  Focus on getting better, rather than being good – goals are seen as opportunities to improve, rather than prove yourself
  6.  Have grit – persistence over the long haul
  7.  Build your willpower muscle – self-control needs to be exercised in order to strengthen it
  8.  Don’t tempt fate – no one has willpower all the time, don’t push your luck
  9.  Focus on what you will do, not what you won’t do – instead of focusing on bad habits, its more effective to replace them with better ones

Remember, goal accomplishment is about what you do, not who you are.

What about grit?

Heidi Halvorson created the Nine Things Diagnostics – a free, online set of questionnaires designed to measure how you use the nine things in pursuit of personal and professional goals. Reviewing some 7,000 responses she discovered the most impactful strategy: have grit. That’s right, persistence is at the top of the list.

Think of a time when you did not achieve a realistic goal.

How much consideration did you give to the possibility: “I just didn’t hang in there long enough?”  People often believe it is their lack of ability that limits success, more often than not, it is too little grit to get the job done.

Here’s the nitty-gritty. The four most impactful strategies are…

  1. Have grit
  2. Know exactly how far you have left to go
  3. Get specific on what success looks like
  4. Seize the moment to act on your goals

Back to our painted oak table … success was the result of persistence, monitoring of progress, knowing what success looks like, and setting aside time to work on the project. And the reward? A beautiful oak piece of furniture and satisfaction of a job well done.

Now, just so you don’t forget …

  • What are your top five achievements during Chapter 2013?
  • How will you celebrate?
  • Who will be there? When? Where?

Here’s to your dream and grit,


Photo credit: Creative Commons Licensewoodleywonderworks via Compfight
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What’s in your hand?

OK Aquarium Mel and Judah

With one disappointment after another, the day felt like a three-game losing streak. Interrupted plans left him wanting more time for to do what he wanted to do. Others experienced his frustration.

On the heels of Thanksgiving Day, Judah wanted to play longer outside, play another video game, and stay longer at Riverside Park. Quick as shooting star, his gratitude and appreciation departed with joy and laughter trailing behind. Pouting and grumpiness promptly filled the void. He only wanted more of a good thing. You understand, don’t you?

A bird in hand…

When does it happen? Remember when you held something of value in your hand but that drive for more or that belief that there is something better chased contentment away, along with gratitude and appreciation.

Contentment is a good thing. While it can suggest, “making do” it means, “to limit (oneself) in requirements, desires, or actions.” Contentment supports satisfaction and happiness. Being content actually creates space to accept something more. It’s becomes a matter of focus.

How ironic that Black Friday immediately follows Thanksgiving Day: the time set apart to take inventory and to give thanks for what we already have – the day proclaimed by President Lincoln to be a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

Harmonizing contentment and desire

“Judah, hold out your hands,” I wanted to help my seven-year-old grandson think about his Story, his behavior. “Now, in your right hand is all the fun we just had outside, playing and throwing the ball. In your other hand is what you want — more time to play outside. But that’s over.”

Hoping for a teaching moment, I pressed on, “What happens if you focus on your empty hand? You’ll be disappointed, sad, mad … right? Now, look at your right hand and remember the fun we had. Can we be thankful for that?”

You’re right; it was not an instant transformation! But I was content with my effort to connect with Judah. And you know what else? Today, I’m still thinking about my focus and purpose to appreciate what’s in my “right hand,” especially the people.

Oh, we missed Black Friday and went to the Oklahoma Aquarium instead. Every time we go I’m amazed at the work of the Creator’s hands!

How well are you harmonizing contentment with your desire for more?

What’s that already in your hand…?

Here’s to liberating contentment,



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They won’t throw it away

brass cog 4361a

It arrived a few weeks ago. Like a granite monument it stands tall on my study desk. It is powerful but discreet. Extraordinary yet simple. Authentic.

You see, over 30 years ago Connie and her husband, Paul became people of influence in our lives. On November 2nd Connie wrote…

Dear Steve,

Just a note to thank you for sending your books – we look forward to reading them.

It was a delight to get to talk to you and Rita at (MNU) Homecoming. What fun recalling memories and sharing a little of the “Journey!” Actually, we could have used more time.

It is always a blessing for us to hear and see how God is working in the lives of people who have been a part of our lives in past years.

With appreciation and love to both you and Rita,


Her card was more than “Just a note.”  Think back to that handwritten note you received; what did you feel?

Handwritten notes are so effective, so why don’t we send more? What’s that you say, not enough time? You don’t have their snail mail address? We live in a digital age? Got it. But that handwritten note is powerful.

Grease for life’s realities

Relationships are like gears. The mechanic squirts grease in the cogs to minimize the friction and keep things working. Gratitude is the grease for human connections and the stress of life.

Throwing a pity party is easy. Come one come all! Yes, life is stressful. Tough times happen. Life is hard, all the more reason to cultivate a grateful heart.

Stress in the workplace (in life) strains relationships. Whether workplace stress comes from inadequate staffing, low pay, unclear or conflicting job expectations, a lack of teamwork, or a lack of work/life balance (i.e. – life harmony) takes its toll. Gratitude eases the strain as you acknowledge benefits received.

Try it and see

Where is your people challenge; your biggest life challenge? Make a list of what you can be grateful for or appreciate and see what happens.

Name the Person ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­:

I’m grateful…

I appreciate…

Identify the Situation:

I am thankful…

Gratitude is the grease for the stressful connections in life.

It’s more than that

Connie’s note will continue to stand tall on my study desk until I file it. While the Hallmark logo is nice I’ll keep the note because it came from her heart in her own handwriting.

Who will you surprise this week?

Here’s to your spirit of gratitude,



Photo Credit: Mike Byford via Compfight


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What can two boys teach us?


Alone on a lonely road, a 12 year-old boy shows up in hot pursuit.   (Video 1:02)

Greatness is within his reach, it isn’t “just for them.”

What are you in pursuit of…?



He blows off the dusty harmonica and takes off his hat; this 12 year-old boy sees opportunity to serve. To inspire a movement is his hope.  Be prepared to be amazed… (Video 3:42)


How are you helping others?


Fourth of July

We celebrate our freedom here in America this week. Liberty is such a blessing. One part of greatness is using your freedom to make a positive difference in the world.

Two 12 year-old boys … how do these short stories speak to you?

Happy Independence Day!


Special thanks to Niamh Spurr for bringing my attention to these stories and to Roy H. Williams and Michael Drew for their insights into what’s happening in our world of people as the Pendulum swings.

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