To all you entrepreneurs and small business CEOs: Are you having a hard time getting your arms around gratitude during this month of Thanksgiving?
I’m sure you all, like me, have been struggling as the fears of the virus lead to lockdowns, then cancellation of conferences, loss of business, and the challenges of finding your relevance in this new world. It’s been a tough year. And it’s not over yet. We still have the uncertainty of the transition of our elected leaders, the promise of a vaccine, the lasting challenges of the economy and our own exhaustion. And as we get closer to the holidays, we are feeling the stress of our families and friends as our traditions are challenged, we see the stress of our employees as they face the same, and we are all pretty tired.
When I’m down, I think of a quote my college roommate once shared with me that has had a significant bearing on my life. It was said by Charles R. Swindoll.
The remarkable thing is I have a choice every day of what my attitude will be. I cannot change my past. I cannot change the actions of others. I cannot change the inevitable. The only thing I can change is attitude. Life is ten percent what happens to me and ninety percent how I react to it.”
My social media person is a recent graduate. She did not have a traditional graduation, since she graduated with the class of 2020. But she managed a long weekend get away with her closest friends to celebrate their achievement.
My daughters both got engaged in the past couple of months. They are having to delay plans to see how the next year shapes up to have a gathering of their close family and friends to celebrate, but they are moving ahead with their lives, finding the joy in committing to a new life together, and looking beyond Covid.
My company has faced challenges, but we have come through. We have redefined our direction, shrunk staffing, and taken our programs all online, and are seeing support from past clients and have even managed to find a few new ones.
When I think back across this year, I might have gotten stuck on how hard it has been, how we were finally starting to grow, and how I’m now having to start all over again. But when I think back to that message—that my attitude is what I have control over, there are many things I am thankful for. I’m thankful for wonderful clients who have encouraged us to grow beyond what I would have expected in this short period of time. I am thankful those employees who have stepped up to the challenge of doing what ever was needed to stay afloat and get products out. I’m thankful to supportive family and friends who have been there with encouragement and support when I needed it the most.
As leaders of our companies, we need to look ahead. What’s past is past. What challenges us, we need to leap over. The future is the horizon and if we spend much time looking over our shoulders, doing the woulda-coulda-shoulda game, we are not respecting ourselves, our companies, or our investors.
Next up is another strong wave of Covid that is bearing down on us. What that will bring in terms of more economic down sliding is anyone’s guess. But I’m thankful for knowing now which employees are the out of the box thinkers that can take us where we need to go. Because they are the leaders of the future, and the ones who I want working closely with me as we brace for the wave.
L admit that I have days where it’s a challenge to muster up the energy for the endurance race I’m in. And when Charles R. Swindoll’s words can’t get me there, I go to my other inspiration: Angles Arrien and her Four Rules for Life: Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. Don’t be attached to the results.
That one gets me going. I show up for life.