Three Keys to Making Every Day Thanksgiving
As we approach Thanksgiving, I think it is important that we stay connected to the thankfulness we express during Thanksgiving all year. It is easy to be thankful when we are surrounded by friends and family, when people are giving us gifts — it is much harder when we are negotiating with a tough partner, or find ourselves in a difficult conversation with an employee, or when we face the uncertainty of global economic markets. But it is in those stressful times that we need to remember that all the love and joy we receive, and that we give back, isn’t just for a day, a month, s year or season. All of that love and joy exists all year, but we often fail to tap into it when needed.
Thanksgiving begins with perspective. If you can be vital, set high standards and be grateful for everything, you will be better able to navigate through change, and you’ll be a better person too.
The dictionary describes vitality as ” the state of being strong and active; energy.” Vitality is critical for leaders from large organizations to start-ups. Leaders need to demonstrate their passion through their energy. Leaders often need to work long hours, and if they aren’t physically capable of working those hours, quality suffers, and they aren’t available when needed.
This is one of the reasons I run. I also just like running. I know running isn’t for everybody, but everybody can find some activity that helps them maintain their vitality. Eat well, move around, at least a little.
The Mayo Clinic suggests at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. As leaders perhaps we should mine minutes from our lack of trust. If we trust people, and don’t micromanage so much — or eliminate other unproductive work — we can probably steal 150 minutes from our own bad habits.
It is also important that we find ways to maintain our mental vitality — to think about the future, to challenge our assumptions, to solve problems that use mental muscles we don’t stretch often enough. We have to put energy into life and work if we want to achieve the goals we set for them.
2. Set High Standards
For me, an important part of Thanksgiving is taking the time to look back on how we measure success, and to challenge ourselves to set high standards. When we see family together, we realize everyone is a role model. The children look up to all of the adults and expect to learn from them. During Thanksgiving, we should ask ourselves if the bars we set are high enough, if the goals we set are ambitious or easy.
As much as setting high standards is important for those we lead or manage, it is equally important for us to believe we can meet the goals we set. We sort of have to set high standards for our high standards.
Giving thanks is something we choose to do. It requires us to be active rather than passive. The same is true of setting high standards. If we let others set our standards for us without our input, we may never achieve our real potential. Only when we become active in setting our own goals can we push ourselves forward.
When you look around the Thanksgiving table, ask yourself if you are just there, or if you have standards for the role model you want to be for your wife, your mother, your husband or your sister, your brother or cousins, to your other relatives and friends. I believe setting high standards is a responsibility I owe to myself and to those around me.
3. Be Grateful, Celebrate
Of course, being grateful is the core of Thanksgiving. Over the last year I have had the opportunity to help start-ups, inspire women working in high technology, engage in international education policy, and even visit the Whitehouse to talk about the value to English to business. All of these new experiences could be overwhelming, but I choose to replace fear with gratitude, to be thankful for the opportunities rather than afraid of the unknown. As I look to 2016 I am already thankful for the challenges and opportunities that will help me grow.
The Journey Toward Thankfulness
We journeyed a long way through life to arrive at this 2015 Thanksgiving. We made a lot of choices, overcame innumerable obstacles, experienced wonders, made mistakes and achieved many things both great and small. Thank those who helped you, be gracious when they thank you, and be grateful that you are who you are. Spend your day enjoying, and being in the moment.
Thank you to those who read this blog and to those who have inspired the posts on it.