Yesterday my friend Susie called from Utah. “What’s it like to be in the DC suburbs right now? Are you okay?” Susie asked. She was referring to the crowds gathering around the Capitol and later forcing their way inside.
Fortunately, I woke up this morning to a brighter day. The sun is shining, the crowds have dispersed, and democracy as it was formulated in America over 200 years ago is taking place.
Our country is trying to heal and each one of us can help, right now, today.
Listen to your colleagues talk about yesterday’s events and be curious. Why do they feel what they feel? How do they form their opinions? Even if, and especially if you don’t agree with them, wonder “why?”
Twenty-two years ago my coach told me something incredibly poignant. He said, “If you don’t understand someone’s behavior, you haven’t learned enough about them.” All humans make decisions based on their life experiences and their backgrounds. If you think someone is acting crazily, it often just means that you aren’t seeing what they are seeing, you aren’t hearing what they are hearing, you haven’t experienced what they have experienced.
I am not proposing that you agree or support other peoples’ behavior, in fact, sometimes just the opposite. Still, in order to heal, we must be curious enough to understand other people’s behavior. We cannot heal without recognition of our unique experiences, understanding, and change.
How to start? Well, how do you receive your news? Whatever the source, shake it up. Change the usual channel on your TV or radio to other stations, get an alternative newspaper, subscribe to a new podcast. Balance your news sources to include those that lean both right and left.
If you, like most Americans, have even one social media account, watch and learn from the documentary The Social Dilemma.
Start by listening to one person in your workplace who feels differently about yesterday’s events than you feel. Be curious and ask about their experiences.
My coach from all those years ago also told me, “And if you are feeling overwhelmed or wondering where to start, just start.” Then he continued, “When you are trying to create positive change, people often get stuck wondering where to start. Just start! Walk in any door or window that you can open and start.” The metaphor when applied to real life means, “Talk to anyone who feels even slightly different than you and listen with an open heart and curious mind.”
I encourage you to go in any door and start healing yourself and our nation.
“How were your holidays?” I asked one of my coaching clients, Michael. “Amazing!” he said. I was shocked. Was he living in the same world I was in? I queried him further.
“Sure,” he acknowledged. “There’s Covid, and money issues, but it’s all about managing expectations,” he continued.
Michael said that his family confronted the reality that this year would be different, and then they adjusted their expectations. They decided to focus on things that would make the holiday special with just the three of them.
Then Michael turned to talking about work and all that was positive in his work life. Those were his Covid silver linings.
Michael made me think about my work-related Covid silver linings. Here are some of mine as we start 2021:
- I have had meaningful work every single day since the beginning of the pandemic. This is significant in the life of a consultant.
- Through more one-on-one meetings, I have been able to get to know many of my clients at a much deeper level. We have had more time together and we are less rushed. Many, actually most, have started more positive and productive behaviors and habits.
- On the Concordia team, our colleague Mary has always been remote. Before March we worked in the Concordia offices, thus Mary was on the fringe. Now that all of us are remote, Mary has been able to contribute much more and we love and benefit from her input.
- I have used all this home office time to give my work environment a face lift. Translation: I sorted and threw out a lot of old material.
- I continue to receive new referrals and I have three new clients.
- While I could continue for pages on my many silver linings, there are two that are tied for best. One is that I can conduct high-level programs while wearing slippers and the other is that you are still reading my newsletters and thus still a part of my life. I appreciate you.
Let me know what your silver linings are. I enjoy hearing from you!
At Thanksgiving dinner, we take turns around the table sharing highlights of the year and expressing our thanks. It is such an uplifting conversation and we were able to do it again this year, socially distanced and outside! I am grateful for that!
Our nuclear family has taken this practice further and we now spend most meals when we are together saying what we are thankful for. Gratitude shouldn’t be designated to one day. Have you considered giving thanks at every gathering? Why not start every meal with each person taking a minute or two to express appreciation for something good that happened that day?
Not only would a greater focus on gratitude be welcome in our personal lives, but studies on gratitude at work link it to more positive emotions, less stress, fewer health complaints, a greater sense that we can achieve our goals, fewer sick days, and higher satisfaction with our jobs and our coworkers.
While expressing thanks to colleagues might feel awkward or even at odds with some workplace environments, many organizations are developing innovative ways to build a culture of gratitude and appreciation in order to transform work lives, leading to deeper connections to each other and to the work we’re doing.
This coming year, I plan to share a series of blogs on the importance of gratitude in our personal and professional lives and on the benefits of routinely recognizing the good things in our lives and saying thank you.
As William Arthur Ward said, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
Many people have an annual tradition of unwrapping presents that have been placed under a Christmas tree, but your real gifts won’t be found under a tree. The real presents are the moments we take to express our appreciation. What are you thankful for? Here are some ideas to get you started: family, friends, pets, health, home, opportunities, freedoms, security, kindness, wisdom, laughter, sunshine, sunsets, art, music, the internet.