The Power of Thankfulness

Being thankful can be one of the most rewarding things you will ever do. It may be hard to get started, but once you do get started and it becomes a part of your daily life, you will find that for the most part you will have a new outlook on life. You see, when we are truly thankful for something, we are instinctively placing value on the very thing we are being thankful for; which allows that very thing to become more important to us. And it is hard to be disappointed in something we value. Thankfulness also shows our maker that we can see a blessing, even in the midst of problems and concerns.

When I wake up, I am thankful to start a brand new day that no one has ever lived in before; in the entire history of mankind. It is something liken to a blank canvass, that has never been painted on, no matter what yesterday’s canvass looked like. I am not necessarily a morning person, but because I wake up thankful, I become optimistic for what the day will bring. One benefit is that I am starting the day with a greater outlook than most, all because my outlook matches my gratitude.

As I was leaving work the other night, I could smell garlic from a restaurant across the street from where I work. It smelled amazing! I instantly found myself hungry and thanking God that I could smell this amazing aroma.

When I see the sunrise in the morning I am thankful that God is faithful and on-time every day! Even when it is raining and I cannot see the sunrise, I am reminded that it is still faithfully there each day — even though the storm is in the way. The storm does not mean the sun is absent: it just means that I cannot see the sun visually.

It is hard to complain about your country when you are thankful for the freedoms and opportunity it provides. It is easy to have gratitude in seemingly mundane situations, when we come to the realization that it can always be worse. It just takes a conscience decision to do so.

My daughter took time to smell the roses and took this lovely picture of a butterfly on a beautiful flower. I was thankful for her eye and thankful that we still have people in this world who are willing to put the selfies away and focus on something that adds value to their life.

Do you want to see your boss/pastor/priest/spouse/children/neighbor/job/house/career/town/country in a different light? Are you interested in how to feel differently about these specific things? Are you wondering how you can draw closer to God? How can you get through another day? It might not be easy but it sure is simple; BE THANKFUL.

In order to be thankful, we MUST take our eyes off of ourselves and put them on the very things we are thankful for. And this is the hardest part as we are naturally self-centered. For without the little things that add value to our life that we should be thankful for, we can become pitiful and poor in attitude and spirit. But because of them, we can become more at peace and richer, far more rich than silver and gold can provide.

Light at the End of the Tunnel

The economy is finally getting restarted with restrictions lightening more each week. In a very short amount of time, we will be back to normal; or at least the new normal. Many people have been furloughed for weeks. For some, they have never been furloughed, and have been at it each and every day. At the very least, all will be forced to take an inventory of their life.

Some have spent the last several weeks desperately afraid of catching the virus, and by stopping in their tracks, they have not been able to really live. Assuming they would catch the virus —  after two months of fear driven isolation and hibernation, they would actually be sick for up to fourteen days PLUS the two months they spent in fear.

This is not the end of humanity with some kind of end-all virus. I am not making light of those who have been sick or have died; I am simply stating a point. The point is this; Whatever holds your focus and full attention will grow roots and bear fruit.

Focus on good health and every habit changes to support that focus. Focus on relaxing on vacation, and you will find yourself melting away in paradise without a care in the world. Focus on catching a virus and you will find yourself immersed in masks, social distancing and surfing the internet to find anything that backs up your stance.

For me, I choose to see the light at the end of tunnel. In fact, I saw this massive Corona undertaking as an opportunity to choose what I focus on. It has allowed me the opportunity to zero in on that which has become blurry. I have also intentionally ignored the very things that take my attention away from these important things. I have found a new spiritual focus, a new business focus, a new family focus, and more.

I have been reminded of a time when businesses were closed on Sunday and nothing was open in the evenings. I believe life is more rich with these businesses closed. I have been reminded of a time when families ate at the kitchen table every night and on occasion ate at a restaurant as a treat. I believe family relationships are better off for it. I recollect a time when Sunday was centered on God. Going to church and spending time with family and sometimes friends — and nothing else. No sports, no shopping, no sleep overs, no work, no errands, no appointments, no nothing. I believe life is much more rich because of it.

So as we come out of this dark time, I will be focused at the light at the end of the tunnel and allow my spirit to feel a sense of gratitude for this time we have come through and are still coming through. I have been able to be richer because of it.

All Play and No Work . . .

Okay, let’s face it; the first day back at the office after a nice relaxing vacation can be very challenging. After all, while we were on vacation, we would have taken some time to unwind and refresh and probably slept in and overall we would not have exerted ourselves. Then, the first Monday back to work seems surreal. We are expected to go from a leisurely stroll to a full sprint.

COVID-19 has changed many things but probably the most important thing to notice is our pace at the office. For those of us working in a variable pay environment, we have been forced into a leisurely stroll. Those of us that were not furloughed have had reduced hours, reduced traffic, reduced tasks to be completed and an overall reduction in job related stress. The real danger is settling in and getting used to the results that we are now producing in the slowdown.

Most economists will agree that April was the low point in this economic stand still. Most believe that May will mirror March, and June and July will have a sharp increase, however, even with a sharp increase in June and July, we will be in a recession environment. Not all people furloughed will be asked back to their positions, not all businesses will open back up, and the reality of a long recovery is at hand.

With this said, it is vitally important not to become complacent with reduced hours and production. We live in a capitalistic society that rewards bigger results based on our efforts. It is important to set bigger goals for May than you think are possible and plan for an even bigger June. Do not get lulled to sleep by the March/April business climate. It will only be the new norm if you choose it to be. If you choose it to be, you will be left behind. In fact, for those of us still working, we have people who are depending on us to grow our business back to a resemblance of where it was when they left — and in a short amount of time, so that they can get back to work.

So look back on March and April with gratitude to have been able to hit the pause button in life, which afforded you to be able to smell the roses. But it is now May and we have work to do. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Conversely, all play and no work makes Jack an undisciplined, unproductive member of society. Set your sights high for May and beyond. Reach higher; work harder; FOCUS; stretch; and grow. Learn to have a balance of smelling the roses and being more productive with your time when you are back to work.

All I Can See

I recently saw a documentary about our plastic epidemic and the effects on the planet. Thanks to that one hour documentary, all I can see is plastic, plastic, and more plastic — EVERYWHERE. It is like a cruel game of Eye Spy.

We are currently dealing with COVID-19 and that is all that people can see. On the news or in person, the average human is inundated with stories, facts, news, or otherwise. So, it goes without saying that the coronavirus is all they can see.

Truth be told, all I can see or you can see is what we fill our thoughts and imaginations with. I suggest we fill our thoughts on love and not hate. On faith and not fear. On hope and not despair. We are in complete control of what we think about but what we fill our minds with will either propel the thought or starve the thought to the point of filling it with something else.

So, maybe you need to starve your thoughts that fan into flames a negative overall mindset, and replace them with something productive; such as thoughts and words of faith, attitudes of hope, and actions of love. Let’s share good news and an overall message that lifts us and others to a better place. After all, if we focus on these things, it will become all we can see.

An Inside Job

Personally, I have peace and joy during this very trying time. I am continually sharing with my staff and my family that joy is an inside job and not dependent on, or slave to our circumstances.

If we take action through a lens of fear, it is bound to increase the feelings of anxiety. It is usually an act of defense if we act at all. Survival mode if you will. When we act out of faith, it is driven through hope and thanksgiving and most always proactive.

Our inner circle needs leadership, not pandemonium. Our communities, co-workers, family, and staff need leadership and vision, not more fuel to a wild fire.

Leadership is the ability to influence others. So in essence, we carry around two buckets at all times. In one hand, a bucket of water and the other a bucket of gasoline. Wisdom and leadership teaches us when to use each one. One puts a fire out and one makes even a small ember a huge flame. In a situation like what we are currently living in, leaders must asses the facts and lead from a position of strength. Those who are throwing fuel on a fire in a time of crisis are not leading at all. This is the time to use the bucket of water to calm the fears of those around us.

This does not mean that we need to like our circumstances or ignore them. In fact, we can down right hate our current circumstances. But rest assured this too shall pass. With the exception of death and taxes (and Tom Brady going to another Super Bowl with Tampa Bay), everything passes. So, use this time as a time of reflection; as a time of goal setting; for being more prepared when we go back to “normal”; for smelling the roses; for more quality time with those we love; to maybe facetime those whom we do not see or speak to often; as a time to reconnect with friends once close; an perhaps more important than all, a time to pour the bucket of gas on our spiritual life.

Last night my daughter made her very own home-made hibachi grill for our family. The fried rice was super! Her recipe included rice, and egg or two, salt, pepper, and stir fry sauce. The chicken was outstanding and so were the veggies. She even had a water bottle to squirt in everyone’s mouth and she tossed veggies into our mouths from her spatula. She is refusing to bow to the fear, because joy is an inside job.

Tune in Tokyo!

In business there is a chain of command and a way for managers to share a message that has been communicated behind closed doors to everyone on the staff.

It is interesting when the message that has been communicated is not the message that gets passed down. The antenna’s job is not to change the channel or change the message. Its job is to make the message more clearer.

Middle management is hard enough to handle in and of itself, but when the message gets distorted from its original intent, I assure you that the middle manager will have even more to handle, especially after the leader discovers the intentional communication faux pas.

The leader depends on the middle managers in the organization to communicate the vision or message clearly, and trusts the managers to waive the banner and plant the flag so to speak. The leader does not expect to find the team they have invested in, twisted and in poor spirits because a middle manager flakes out. Actually, the leader is trusting the manager to be a good steward of the business and a good steward of his or her vision.

If the antenna doesn’t do its job and make the content clearer for all to see, sometimes the leader throws it away and invests in a better product — like cable or streaming.

When Discouragement & Disaster Collide

It is bound to happen sooner or later. That is, unless you live in a bubble. There is no such thing as perfection all day, every day. Eventually, the good times pass and disaster strikes in some shape or form. It may come in the form of relationships that have soured. It could come in the form of not getting the promotion, not making the team, or not being included in social situations. It sometimes is related to our health or our finances. Whatever the reason that discouragement comes on so strong, there is a way out; even though we feel it may actually be a disaster.

The first step is to expect it. Just as the daylight comes to end each night and the streak of sunny days is broken by the rain, so shall our smooth sailing be interrupted by a “storm”.

When the discouragement is deep and the disaster grand, the first thing we can do to remedy our situation is to remember that this too shall pass. Good times are not permanent and bad times just the same are only temporary. Even if it feels like a hundred years: it is not.

The next thing is to remember how we felt in the good times. If we can remember how living the “mountaintop” life was fulfilling, then we can have hope to get back there again after climbing our way out of the “valley.” This also gives us strength to get through our current circumstance because we remember just how good it felt to have things going well for us.

Lastly, if we will accept the fact that disappointment and disaster have a way of teaching us, growing us, and making us wiser, then we become open to the bitterness of bad circumstances to be our teacher and ultimately making us greater.

So, the next time discouragement and disaster collide; remember to expect it coming, that it is only temporary, and to learn from the experience.