Gratitude, Pretzels and a Forest Road

The road through the forest wasn’t giving me any opportunities to pass. I was stuck behind a fellow pulling a trailer, and he was plodding along. While I appreciated the extra time to enjoy the beauty of nature around me, I was getting impatient. Eventually we came to a spot where he was able to pull over and let me by. To show my gratitude for his kindness I reached over to wave to him as I passed.

Problem 1: I was snacking on pretzels at the time, and had some in my hand. When I raised my hand to wave to the gentleman, only one finger came up. And it was not a good finger. So my wave of gratitude accidentally turned into an obscene gesture. I wanted to tell him thank you, but instead I flipped him off.

Problem 2: My teenage son was with me, sitting in the passenger seat. When I reached across the car to wave, my inadvertent gesture was right in front of his face. “DAD!” screamed my horrified son, “He was trying to help you!” “I know,” I replied, choking on my pretzels and humility, “I didn’t mean to.”

Whether or not it is the Thanksgiving holiday where you are, this is a good time to give thanks.  It’s always a good time to give thanks. If there is someone who has been kind to you, express your gratitude. It may not go perfectly, but don’t worry about it. Make the effort. Say thanks.

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present
and not giving it.”  William Arthur Ward

Image: pixbox77 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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When the Do Falls

Life isn’t lived in a straight line.  There are bends we plan for and hairpin twists we never see coming.  These changes in course have an impact on our life, for they are the stuff of life itself.

In the Be-Do cycle our doing flows from our being, and enriches our being. When that is in place it’s a cycle of growth. But a change in what we do can have a significant impact on the cycle.

Milestone life changes such as graduation, marriage, a new job, moving or retirement are events we look forward to with joy and anticipation.  But they can have unexpected effects if we don’t stop to think through how life will be different afterwards.  Being promoted to a new job brings new opportunities, but can also mean leaving behind relationships that affect our lives in ways we don’t realize.

Profound events such as the unexpected loss of a job or the death of someone close to us can really shake us up.  One day our normal routine comes to a screeching halt, and we’re no longer doing what we were doing before. The most severe, punch-in-the-gut experiences can even leave us with a hole in our life that can’t be filled, where there is no new lifestyle that will provide the activities that allow the same expression and enrichment of who we are. It’s a time when we really need to dig deep and get a good hold of who we are.

Expression

What we do is an expression of who we are.  When what we do changes it can take away a channel for us live out who we are.  The key thing to remember in times of such change is that what we do does not define us.  It should reveal us and reflect us, but we are who we are, not what we do.  Even though what we do is changing, we are still who we are.

A change in our doing actually provides a good opportunity to step back a moment and reflect on who we are.  Am I who I think I am? What are my core values? Are my new activities true to these values? Do I need to adjust my vision? How was I living out who I am prior to the change?  In what new ways can I live that out?

Enrichment

What we do should enrich who we are.  This is where a disruption to Do can really be hard.  When we lose a source of enrichment and fulfillment in our lives it can have a major impact on our being.

Again this is a good time to reflect.  What benefits and blessings was I receiving from what I was doing before?  Which were the most meaningful to me?  What would my life be like without that?  Can I find another source in my new activities, or start another new activity that would provide what I need? If a new job isn’t supplying an important element of enrichment for me, can I find it in a volunteer activity?

As a leader

Leading is guiding people forward and bringing about change.  But change for people often means a change in what they do.  As a leader it is important to be aware of the impact this has.  If the leader has built this change upon communal values and shared vision, the new actions will provide the people an even better means to live out who they are,  and will enrich who they are in new and wondrous ways.  However, if the change brought about by a leader only interferes with the Be-Do cycle of the individuals, then the individuals will not grow, and neither will the team or organization.

When life takes a turn and there is major change in what you normally do – Hold onto who you are. Seize the opportunity to better understand and even refine who you are. Reflect on how to live that out. Seek new means of enrichment, in order that you may become all that you are meant to be.

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” Alan Watts

Photo courtesy of AESThetic Photography