How Gratitude and Perspective Made Me a Better Leader
As many that are close to me may know, my husband has had neurological health complications spanning the last 15 years of our marriage. The things that happen to us personally impact our professional lives in a way that we may or may not intend, and the outcome is often a shift in perspective. Four years ago on September 2013, I found myself asking, "Why now? Why me? Why is this happening?” I was sitting in the neuro ICU, where my husband, John, had suffered a stroke due to complications from a brain surgery. No amount of thinking, wanting, wishing, or dreaming could control what was happening or what would happen from then on.
(Lindsay Bohon and family attending a Cedar Rapids Kernels game with GreatAmerica in August 2017.)
I know I’m not alone; you have likely caught yourself saying, "Why is this happening?" or "If only this would happen?" When we begin to question the outcomes of our lives, this presents the opportunity to pause and find perspective.
Below are five things gaining perspective has taught me, both personally and professionally.
- Find gratitude and focus on it.
Being thankful makes the unbearable, bearable. I have been in sales and leadership for many years. When I reflect back on difficult situations, those times when I found gratitude had far different outcomes than those when I didn’t. If I tried to find some way to be thankful for what was learned and focus on the positive versus the negative, I was able to move forward easier and more quickly to my next opportunity. I didn’t always do this, but I sure do now. Where we focus carries into our actions and is a lever for our success. It impacts our relationships from employees and customers to our family members. How do you find gratitude?
- Time is your friend, not your enemy.
It’s so easy to complain about not having enough time, but if we slowed down to think more about the appreciation of the time we do have, it’s easier to rearrange how we spend it. Prioritize your time with things you value most and appreciate the time you have left to complete the other things. I appreciate the time we have with John. By all counts, he shouldn’t be here, and his daily time is not spent with ease. But, we have time together and that makes it all count. How can you find more appreciation for your time and how you are spending it?
- Chasing goals is better than chasing dreams.
I had and still have many dreams and plans. I can plan my future career, dream about vacation spots, and pin all kinds of things on my Pinterest boards. But, at the end of the day, if I don't have any goals… they are all just dreams. Setting goals creates action. John woke up from his surgery unable to walk or take care of himself. When he was moved into rehab, they immediately set goals. John could have laid there and dreamt about walking again, but instead he focused on the daily goals at hand to move forward. Those goals were attainable and the mission was eventually accomplished! Why don’t we set goals and break them down into smaller, attainable goals more often?
- Discipline is hard work.
In goal setting, you need discipline. We can create a plan to achieve our goals, but if we don't discipline ourselves to stick to the plan and avoid distractions, we will surely struggle. We will allow negativity and excuses to derail us from achieving our goals. Who encourages you in your personal and professional life? Do you have support that pushes you to stay focused and be disciplined? John did, I do, and finding appreciation for the accountability versus looking at it as being managed creates a higher opportunity for success. John and I are better due to the people that pushed us. Do you allow someone to push you and see it as positive reinforcement or something else?
- Dedication is even harder than discipline.
Believing in what you are doing determines your rate of success. Do you believe in what you are doing or facing? If you don't, your hill is higher than you can climb. Facing the challenges my husband's health posed and facing the challenges in my career are different but the same. Every time I have fallen, failed, or struggled personally or professionally, it was because I didn't believe in what I was doing, and wasn't truly dedicated to a positive outcome. How dedicated are you in what you are facing?
My husband has accomplished far more than we expected, continues to fight his daily challenges, and is a constant reminder to me to take time for perspective in every situation. There is always something that could be worse, and looking backward or dreaming of the "what if" only prevents us from paying attention to "the now". I am a more patient person today, given the mark my personal experiences have made on my life. With renewed perspective, I live on gratitude and laughter, stay disciplined, and dedicate myself to achieve any goal I believe I can accomplish. In turn, my rate of success is much higher… I either win, or I learn. What is preventing you from embracing patience and perspective? What distractions are you allowing to get in your way?
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