The True Power of Gratitude

express your gratitude - advice on a sticky note against burlap canvas

A few years back, after attending a personal development workshop, I experienced the true power of gratitude.  At this session, we were asked to think about someone who made a big impact in our lives and to write a letter to that person, expressing how we felt.

As a serial over-achiever, I wrote two letters:  one was based on a professional impact, the other, more personal.

The first letter was written to someone I went to work for at a significant turning point in my life.  The job opportunity involved both a relocation and a change in professional direction.  In retrospect, I realize this man took a big risk hiring me; I also took a giant risk going to work for him.

Many of my friends in the organization advised me against the move.  The man is a tyrant, they said.  The last two people in this role lasted one week and one day, respectively.  Wow! I thought; how could I turn down a challenge like that one?

As it turned out, this was the single best career decision I ever made. The organization was going through a period of tremendous growth and rapid change and I learned a lot in a very short time.  Because I worked to gain his trust, he gave me lots of responsibility and lots of latitude. What an opportunity!

I learned so many valuable lessons working for him, including how to get my point across quickly, concisely and with impact.  I learned the value of taking immediate and full responsibility of mistakes and problems and I learned to respect and appreciate progress rather than waiting for perfect.

When I wrote, and told him these things, he was clearly blown away. People don’t do things like this, especially in the world of big business.  But who among us doesn’t long to be appreciated and valued for the difference we make?

The reality is that it sometimes takes years to truly appreciate the difference someone made in your life.  While I was working hard and dealing with the day to day frustrations and challenges, I did not stop to think of what I was gaining from the experience.  It was only in retrospect that I could clearly see it.

The second letter was more personal, written to a former family member.  She, too, had a big impact on me in my formative 20’s.  This woman was always a class act, treating people with respect and kindness. From her, I learned the beauty and value of a true loving, supportive partnership between two people, which led me to important changes in my personal relationships.

Also, though she was one of the best and brightest business people I ever knew, she was humbly content to operate in the background while others got the credit for her leadership and her ideas. At the same time, she did not allow people to steamroll her or take advantage; she had incredible inner strength and fortitude.  In fact, she gained the respect of many business people at a time when women did not get much credit for their contributions.  She had a very impressive way of balancing all the competing needs to do the right thing.

She was clearly moved by my letter.  She wrote and told me how much it meant to her to receive such acknowledgement; she had no idea I learned all these lessons by watching her.  After she passed, one of her family members told me she still had it nearby and read it often.  We all crave acknowledgement and appreciation.

I am forever grateful for having done this exercise and letting these people know how much I appreciated them and what I gained from having them as part of my life.

So, what about you?  To whom do you owe a debt of gratitude?  Who made a lasting impact on you that you have never fully acknowledged and thanked?  To whom can you extend the true power of gratitude?

I’m challenging you – in this season for thanksgiving – though, any time is a good time – to write such a letter to someone who made a difference.  I promise, you will make someone’s day – and more.  And you will feel the true power of gratitude in your heart and soul.

And, of course, I’d love to hear back from you about your experience with this exercise.  Thank you for being with me, for reading my letters, for your kind comments and challenges and questions.  I truly appreciate hearing from you!

Wishing you all good things.



5 Steps to Greater Resilience: Recovering from Election Day

6_img1Yesterday was a difficult and emotional day for many Americans.  Regardless of whether you got your way or not, the anger and frustration that has marked this very, very long campaign continued.  Added to it was a fair degree of shock and disbelief.

I admit, I woke up yesterday more depressed than I’ve ever been.  But one thing I have always prided myself on is my resilience.  I feel a lot better today.  A lot more hopeful, a lot more optimistic, back in balance.  How does that happen?

I believe that resilience – that capacity to bounce back – is about the ability to put things in perspective, the sooner the better.  Here are some steps that will help:

  1. Step back. See the situation as an observer instead of a participant.  What do you notice about your own behavior and that of others?   What is it that you like and dislike about it?
  2. Take the high road. Force yourself, if necessary, to behave in accordance with the person you most admire – or you when you are your very best self.  How would that person respond to the situation?
  3. Look at the big picture. Ask yourself how the situation will impact you in the long run.  How will you feel about it three weeks from now, three months from now, three years from now?  If you have trouble with this, try to remember something that troubled you three years ago.
  4. Find the lesson you need to learn. I believe that “if you’re paying attention, each and every experience you have can contribute to who you become as a person.” * What will this experience contribute to your growth and development?
  5. See the humor in the situation. There is always humor – look at how much fun the late night pundits had over the past 18 months. Find something that amuses you, makes you smile or laugh out loud.  Humor is the best medicine.

When you step back, take the high road, see the big picture, you realize there are lessons to be learned and humor to find in almost any situation, no matter how serious.

Practicing resilience is a great preparation for dealing with all the challenges that life presents to you along the way.  We all have them; some of us just bounce back faster than others.  Like anything else, the more you practice it, the easier it gets and the better you get.

“Remember that when you improve, everything around you improves.”  * Your attitude improves, your results improve, your relationships improve.

*  These are quotes from my book, Becoming Deliberate:  Changing the Game of Leadership from the Inside Out.  Do you have your copy yet?  If not, click here to take advantage of free gifts when you purchase.  And, by the way, it makes a great gift too for your favorite leader, aspiring leader or anyone just looking to improve their life.

Life Lessons from The Big Redhead


Hard work, discipline and overcoming adversity were the main themes when I recently attended Seton Hall University’s Executive Suite Series, featuring the legendary Bill Walton.

As part of the renowned UCLA Basketball program that won seven straight national titles (a record most believe will never be broken), and NBA Finals MVP, regular season MVP and recipient of the Sixth Man Award, Walton had plenty of stories to share.  These included the incredible highs and devastating lows of a stellar career marred by serious injury.

The most compelling message I heard from Bill Walton was the importance of preparing for the inevitable adversity that’s on its way.  Because you never know how the game of life is going to play out.  Surviving 37 orthopedic surgeries in order to keep his dream alive, he learned that motivation must come from within and that developing critical life skills enable you to work around challenges in order to get through them.  His “Big 4” include balance, quickness, creative imagination and empathy.

Here are some other great quotes and lessons from that day:

  1. “Ask someone who is on their way back.” No doubt, they have a plan, or a formula, that led to success—and that you can benefit from.  Bill includes his parents and John Wooden, a true force of nature, as his most valuable mentors.  And, his first coach, who was a volunteer coach for 59 years—that is servant leadership!
  1. The importance of culture in creating success, recognizing that the strength of any team depends on the strength of each individual. John Wooden wanted his players to excel as students, as athletes and to prepare them to meet life. He taught relentlessly about the 15 elements that comprise his Leadership Pyramid. (Walton claims he was Wooden’s biggest nightmare, driving him to an early grave at 99.)
  1. “A culture of yes is built on a foundation of no.” Learn to ask the right questions to get the answers you want.  True leaders absorb, develop, then pass on the skills, knowledge and discipline to the next generation of leaders.  And when “the leader can say no and the team buys in, anything is possible.”  The best leaders are like fork lifts:  they pick someone up and put them in a higher place.
  1. Basketball is not a game of size and strength. Rather, it’s about training the mind and subjugating the ego. “Success is never present without sacrifice and discipline.”  And learning to put failure in its proper perspective is critical. Even the terms in used in the game provide larger lessons:  transition, cross over, rebound, fast break, momentum.
  1. Big challenges can lead to big accomplishments. Walton described “my biggest accomplishment and your biggest nightmare” – learning to speak at the age of 28 after a lifelong stutter.
  1. Finally, “it’s what you learn after you know it all that matters most.” This is what John Wooden wrote to him when he graduated from UCLA.  What a great message to carry through life!

P.S.  He also recommended these four books that he recently read:

Shoe Dog, by Phil Knight

Believer, by David Axelrod

Dark Money, by Jane Mayer

Bill Graham Presents by Robert Greenfield

#leadership #lifelessons #successprinciples #highperformance #setonhall #executivesuite

Are You in a Rut?

stuckThree [early] mornings a week, I travel to the fitness center to swim.  I park in the same place, use the same locker, the same lane to do my laps, the same stall to take my shower.  Today, someone was using “my locker!” I really had to laugh, thinking to myself what a creature of habit I’ve become – at least at the fitness center.

I was grateful to that other woman for forcing me to mix it up.  I consider myself somewhat spontaneous, and yet, as I swam my laps, I started to think of the number of things I always do in the same order or in the same way: same spot in Yoga class, same energy drink in the morning, same “go-to” restaurants – so many other things that are always the same.

So, I vowed to myself to look for opportunities today to mix it up a little more – variety is the spice of life, right?

Think of the big and small ways you operate on auto-pilot.  Certainly, it’s important to have systems and routines that make your life easier, so you don’t have to think hard about everything you do throughout the day.  But when is it a good idea to change things out?  When is the right time?

Where in your life are you in a rut right now?  Have you been thinking of making a change – personally or professionally – and held off because of fear or doubt or because it might be too hard to go through the process? What habits do you have in place that are not serving you?

Sometimes, even a small change can help you feel brand new.  A new pair of shoes, a change of scenery, a conversation with someone you don’t know well.  Changing your perspective by taking a different route or looking at something from a whole new angle can provide a boost of energy.

Most people wait until the New Year or a significant birthday to make changes.  But let’s face it, many of those changes don’t last.  The reality is that any time is a good time – if you’re ready.  And sometimes, you need a little kick in the butt to force the change.

My day today started off with a little kick in the butt.  And I’m so glad it did!

If there are changes in your life that you need to make, and you want some help to do that, let’s talk!  Right now, you can click here to schedule a free 30- minute strategy session with me. I look forward to providing you a little kick in the butt!

#highperformance #leadership #womeninbusiness #womeninleadership #change




A Day with Jack

withjackAmong my core values is personal growth, learning and development to effect continuous improvement – for myself and for my clients.

Recently, I attended One Day to Greatness Live with Jack Canfield.  Over the course of many years, Jack has been an important teacher and mentor of mine. His book, The Success Principles, is on my list of Top 10 Favorite Books. I’ve read it multiple times and use it as frequent reference tool.

Even though the material is familiar to me, I was able to derive huge benefit from the experience.  Here are some of the reasons:

  1. Powerful content, such as Jack’s, provides valuable lessons over and over again. Since you are in a different place than you were “last time,” the learning derived is also different.  I recognized how dramatically my perspective in certain areas has changed over the years.
  2. As a speaker, coach and trainer, I find great value in watching how the masters – like Jack – deliver the message. In particular, he uses humor, stories and experiential learning to ensure the best possible outcome for his audience.  I aspire to provide this kind of experience and value for my own audiences!
  3. It is always great to spend a day with like-minded people. The energy in the room was positive and supportive; people were curious about how others are applying these powerful principles to create success for themselves and for clients.  I met some awesome people!
  4. Jack is extremely accessible. He greets participants, takes pictures, gives hugs and always demonstrates a kind, gentle approach to helping people solve their challenges.  I especially appreciated the opportunity to give him a copy of my book, Becoming Deliberate:  Changing the Game of Leadership from the Inside Out, and thank him for providing the initial inspiration to write it. (When I attended his Breakthrough to Success Program, writing a book was the breakthrough goal I set for myself!)
  5. The opportunity to spend a day working on me and my business, my vision and goals for the future, was a gift. I was reminded how much one can accomplish in a single day of focused activity and learning.  I came away with more clarity and more determination to achieve the next level of performance in my own life, plus more ways to help support my clients’ needs.

Finally, it gave me a chance to gratefully remember and revisit some of the special people I have met through my association with Jack.  And I took the opportunity to reach out and remind them that they are special to me.

When was the last time you gave yourself a day like that? I would love to hear about it!

And, if you are interested in creating such a day for your team or organization, click here to schedule a quick 20-minute phone conversation so that I can learn more about your needs and provide a recommendation.

#successprinciples #leadership #personalgrowth #learninganddevelopment #continuousimprovement