Connections

The Gift of Gratitude!... Strategy to Minimize Stress!

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Thanksgiving week is one of my favorite times of the year. It invites an opportunity to reflect, spend time with our dearest people, and give thanks. I say this with the understanding that the holidays can bring their own stress as well in complicated family relationships and the ever-increasing advertising pressure to distract us with Black Friday deals of things that we want but may not need. Let’s keep our perspective a little higher and not allow anything to rob us from the real gift of the season. As we enter this week, let us be reminded of the gift of gratitude.

Giving gratitude will strengthen your priority relationships!

Gratitude is a discipline. It requires mental space, intentionality in reflection, and some honesty with your own heart. When your emotions get the better of you, gratitude will ground you. We all face disappointments, unmet expectations, and failed commitments. Our hurt can range from heartburn to heartache. There’s a weight to the significant issues in life, work, and relationships. Left unchecked the issues may leave us unguarded and vulnerable.

Upon my own reflection, since last Thanksgiving, I have privately met with 50+ leaders for 360 feedback reviews. These private coaching sessions include a report that gives specific feedback to the leader from 5-20+ professional and personal colleagues who have given responses to their 360 assessment. The feedback comes in 3 ways. As you can imagine there are insights to help strategically define how a leader may develop. Next, there are perception gaps they need to close such as blind spots or hidden strengths. Finally, they include specific affirmations that are encouraging. The formal assessment gives written language to strengthen a leader from the inside out. It’s the gift of written gratitude!

A recurring theme in all these reviews are the effects of stress. The need for strengthening represents the possibility that something is weak, vulnerable, or unhealthy. It’s a threat to your welfare. After the push of a deadline, fiscal quarter, or semester we can be exhausted. We need recovery because our reserves are spent. We are the weakest when exhausted and stressed.

It’s impossible to be stressed and grateful at the same time.

As I work with my leaders, I continue to test this theory. It’s a discipline of focusing on what’s good instead of drifting to the worry of what’s not. For many leaders, dealing with the issues of performance, energy, and engagement reflect the long-term effects of stress. It can be chronic. Stress is specific and situational how it impacts each of us. The research from the book  Choke, which evaluates students, athletes, and high achieving leaders, gives evidence of how stress affects our brain chemistry and our abilities to perform. As a runner, I often refer to stress as mental lactic acid. We’ve got to get it out of our system or it will break us down robbing our natural strengths. Gratitude will cleanse your system of stress faster than you think. Let me suggest one timeless and timely practice.

Keeping a journal captures your words of gratitude

For 25 years, I’ve kept a journal. It’s a daily practice of reflection to ground my day. Suggesting journalling may seem commonplace, but for some, it's a first-time idea or practice. After my 360 coaching sessions, I encourage leaders to start a gratitude journal. It can begin with drafting a written response to the participants who contributed to the 360. It’s a specific way of saying thank you for speaking into my leadership. The formal feedback invites the informal sincere response. In a statement it captures, “Thank you for responding my 360, I learned in my report that I need to grow in this specific way..., I’ve committed to focus on developing as a leader in this area…, you’ve helped me get started.” Imagine for a moment if you shared this response with your manager, peers, direct report, friends, or family. What would be the impact?

Everyone values specific and sincere appreciation

Remember gratitude is a discipline and the work has a reward. I’ve heard first hand the process has been life-defining for some leaders. A gratitude journal is a place to capture specific statement, comments, even questions. It’s your private place to clarify your thinking before you share. Imagine if you took the time to write down who are the key relationships and how you are grateful for their role in your life.

How may gratitude strengthen you and the health of your relationships?

As you enter into Thanksgiving week get started capturing what you’re grateful for this Thanksgiving. Once it’s written down then you’ll be ready to give thanks at your next opportunity. That may be the real gift of this season.

Happy Thanksgiving!

*Here are my leather journals written over a 3 year period. I also recommend Moleskins if you like to keep it simple. My personal favorite that I use today is from Oaks of Wisdom, my wife’s hand-drawn journals. Enjoy!


Don't Miss this... Milestone Moments

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Capturing the significance of the season is crucial.

At sunrise today, I hiked the Lincoln Open Space. Near the overlook, I saw the red rock bench as an invitation... rest, enjoy, appreciate. There's the trail in front and behind. There's so much to consider,  where I've been and the desire to keep moving. It's a milestone moment in my life that I don't want to miss. Next week, my daughter graduates from high school. Then my oldest daughter graduates from college this fall, and my seventh-grade son just ran his first track period. Then tomorrow my nephew graduates from college.  Whew! I'm taking a deep breath to enjoy the view!

If that wasn't enough, today is another milestone moment for our family. The official launch of Oaks of Wisdom! It's a dream that's becoming a reality for my wife. She's a quiet creative that's taking her private reflections public with an open house. Oaks has been planted, watered, and ready to grow. I could not be more proud as a husband, a father and an uncle. Even in the high point of these moments, it's a discipline to stop and give thanks today. 

It's a celebration of what some people only dream for their families. I don't want to miss the significance of this moment. It's a simple yet profound invitation for you as well. 

What are the significant milestone moments that you're experiencing this year that need to be celebrated? 

Many of us are running so fast. The danger is looking at what we don't have or where we're falling short. Don't miss the significance of where we've come, but maybe more importantly, who we've shared the moment with along the way. Yes, diplomas, graduations, and launches are the moments marked by calendars, but they represent years in the making. If you find yourself today fatigue by the long road and the ascent then... 

  • Take a moment to rest. 
  • Take a moment to enjoy.  
  • Take a moment to appreciate. 

Seize the moment of celebration! Look around; see what's been accomplished, learn from the disappointments, honor those who are with you, and let gratitude enrich your life.  After your milestone moment tell a friend. Your encouragement maybe inspiration for them. 

If you need a friend to celebrate your milestone moment, drop me a note I'll celebrate with you. I'm in the clouds today! 

Enjoy the sunrise! 

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Oh My Back!!! Lumbar Support In Your Leadership

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A few weeks ago I jumped in my truck excited about something. The moment I jumped in I heard a pop in my seat. After a closer inspection, I realize the lower portion of the back had concaved. So sitting in my truck left me slouched driving down the road. These are the things you don't think about until snap, break, then slump

The irony is right after that happen we had a family trip scheduled to drive across Kansas from Colorado. After a few hours in my truck seat, I ended up jamming a jacket to provide some support. Also, I also noticed the steel bar had an interesting way of digging right into my vertebrae at the same spot. So after hundreds of miles in Kansas and hours over the next few weeks, I was developing a chronic ache that went straight to my attitude every time I got out of the truck.

The fact is I didn't have the support that I needed. 

A quick look at YouTube video I found instruction for the lumbar repair and ordered the replacement part. A few days I had plastic lumbar support for 30 bucks delivered to my house. Pulling the seat apart, a few minutes with the right tools, and some dirty knuckles my support was back 100%. The difference was instantaneous driving down the road and so was my attitude. 

Sometimes we get excited about working with our people. In our enthusiasm sometimes something goes snap. We don't know exactly know what happened, but we know something is broke. We might even go weeks and hundreds of miles in conversation before we respond. You know instinctively that your posture is off, you've got a pain in your back, and your attitude reflects your demeanor.

What support do you need in your leadership today? 

Maybe that support comes personally from a friend or family member. It may be advice from a mentor or coach. It may be feedback from a team member. There's somebody in your life and leadership circles who can help.

Take a few minutes watching a leadership video, 30 bucks in a lunch with a trusted confidant, getting your hands dirty for a few minutes by taking some action may be what's needed. 

When you do so, you may sense instant relief that's critical for your leadership. 

Plus you'll enjoy the ride a whole lot more...

If you're Stuck in your leadership, team, or organization... let the Advance help get you the Support you need to Succeed! Take the first step here...