Blog post

A New Perspective About Gratitude

20 November 2018

Several weeks ago, I had long-delayed, but much-needed surgery on my foot. I opted to get this surgery behind me prior to the beginning of the busy Holiday season.

I am grateful for a highly competent, caring surgeon who is leading the way to get me back into my jogging shoes and on the road again as soon as possible. For me, slowing down is difficult at best, and I am learning a lot about the imperative for patience. I’m spending six weeks in a “fashion statement” orthopedic boot with crutches as a required accessory. I then eagerly anticipate six weeks of PT. Within the first two phases of the surgeon’s game plan, we’re three weeks down… nine weeks to go.   

How has this required pause in my routine impacted me as I’m typically “pedal to the metal”? The answer…. much more than I expected!

The inability to be readily mobile means that I have been unable to take care of the most basic needs of daily life. While I already knew my husband was Prince Charming, he has been nothing short of amazing during this entire journey as he is taking remarkable care of me.

What have I learned from this experience? In short, I have learned the importance of being purposefully grateful for little things that, heretofore, I had taken for granted.

I learned that I should never take lightly the extraordinary gift of independence that mobility provides… such as the ease of getting into and out of the shower… going up one step, to say nothing of traversing an entire flight of stairs. With my admittedly stubborn insistence to regain independence, I learned how exhausting it can be to retrieve soup from the refrigerator, pour it into a bowl and then place the bowl in the microwave…. not to mention having to get a spoon from that “far away drawer” so I could actually eat the warmed soup before placing the empty bowl in the dishwasher. Whew!

I learned that a trip to Costco could provide to me as much fun as a fieldtrip for a third grader. Being elated to leave the house, I was reminded how beautiful the autumn leaves are just before falling from the trees. And as a Type A who always has our Christmas tree up prior to Thanksgiving, this past Saturday I sat on the sidelines and witnessed the excitement and sincerity of our two toddler granddaughters as these little ones and their mothers carefully placed each Christmas ornament in its own special spot on the tree.

At a time in our nation’s history when civility and decency appear to have been forgotten, I found myself being the welcomed recipient of kindness from strangers as they would hurry to open the door when I entered or exited the restaurants where we were dining.

And with great humility, I learned that those individuals who find themselves with long-term immobility truly deserve our accolades as they struggle every day to accomplish routine tasks that most of us take for granted.

Yes, this temporary experience of immobility has provided me a bird’s eye view of how easy it is for us to take for granted the little things in life that really make a big difference.

As leaders, we do the very same thing as we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of our daily routines. How easy it is for us to take for granted the little things our employees do every day that make a big difference for our organizations and our communities.

In Gracious Leadership: Lead Like You’ve Never Led Before, I devoted a chapter to the critically important belief that Gracious Leaders Are Grateful.  Within this chapter, I challenge leaders to embrace the probability that extraordinary results can be achieved by ordinary people when leaders are purposeful in expressing gratitude. In an era in which all leaders must constantly figure out how to do more with less, the power of a simple and sincere “Thank you” is immeasurable. You see, employees are starving to know they are making a difference, and as leaders, it’s our responsibility to ensure they know we are grateful for all they do. What better time than now to start looking for opportunities to say “Thank you” to your team members!

During this special week when individuals throughout our nation are pausing to reflect upon all for which we should be grateful, I plan on being at the head of the line. I’m so thankful for excellent health and to be well on my way to restored mobility. I’m grateful for my loving husband for being my best friend and soulmate in this journey called life. I’m grateful for my daughters for blessing me with the most gratifying job I’ll ever have… that of being a mother. I’m grateful for all my family and friends, both near and far, for the care and love that they selflessly share. And, I’m thankful for those individuals from coast to coast who are uniting in a deep conviction that respect and civility can be restored in organizations of all types when we all are accountable to lead with goodness and with grace.

Blessings to you and yours during this holiday season of gratitude. While I can’t physically run the Turkey Trot this Thursday, I’ll be cheering from afar and will look forward to being back on the road again soon!

1 comment

  • Marilou Eldred

    November 21, 2018 at 12:49 pm

    This is one of the best explanations of gratitude I have ever seen. Although it is about temporary immobility and the constant need for help, it says so much more about our relationships with family and friends. It says that our “type A” personalities aren’t always in charge and the world manages well without our always being the leader. And it says, most of all, that leaders must set the example and be the first to be grateful. Sadly our country is not even close to exemplifying that right now. But many individuals are, including Janet, the author of this blog that is so important for everyone to read. Thanks, Janet; I’m so grateful for my sister-in-law in you!

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