Bridging Leadership Lessons from the Workplace and Those Experiences Shaping Today's Youth and Tomorrow's Leaders
In my opinion, Thanksgiving is one of the most underrated holidays that we celebrate in the United States. It is a great time to gather with family and friends, but even though the title of the holiday is front and center, true thankfulness is often overlooked because of the large meals, football, and shopping deals. The Giving of Thanks has become more words than actions.
Last year, I wrote a post on being thankful and I closed with a challenge to not just post thanks on social media, but to reach out to those for whom you are thankful. Put your words into actions. How did that go? I started off strong by sending notes, texts, and emails. I tried to adjust my behavior. But it was short lived.
Leadership guru and author, Jon Gordon, has long recommended morning Thank-You or gratefulness walks. He has referenced psychological studies that have shown it is impossible to be thankful and stressed at the same time. In a prior post, I had written about the importance of filling your life with positive energy and being mindful of what you read. In What Goes in Must Come Out, I talked about how a change to my reading and listening habits, impacted my mindfulness and attitude which then had a negative impact on relationships.
I am Thankful for my Family
It always starts with family, my wife Jenny and our four incredible kids. My wife and I talked about how much happiness we feel when they are all together and interacting as teenagers and adults. Listening to their banter and laughter as they share stories. Such a different feeling than when you watched them play when they were young. Now we get a glimpse into who they are becoming as adults - which in itself is a reason for gratefulness.
I am Thankful for Brewer Science
My work life has long intermingled with my personal life. It’s where I met my wife. When you listen to the news and in my opinion, the madness that exists in the “Quite Quitting” fad, I feel grateful for the 29 years I have spent at this company that has challenged me to expand my skills and my mind to make sure that I can have an impact on the lives of others. My coworkers have heard me say that when you love what you do and you realize that the decisions you make can not only impact the lives of 500 families but of the community as well, then what you do matters and deserves respect. To you “Quiet Quitters”, I feel sorry that you haven’t felt the passion and the love for a working environment that I have. It is NOT a job. It also is NOT my life. But it has helped shape me and been a big part of my life, just like my family.
I am Thankful for Cherished Memories
The cherished memories I hold for those family and friends who are no longer with us. While I am tearing up as I am typing this, I must remind myself that it is not intended to be sad, but to be grateful for the time and memories that we shared. Being Thankful, that they meant enough that you are thankful for them and the impact that they had on us.
I am Thankful for the Power of Impact
The impact that I have been able to have on others and that others have had on me. The kids I have coached, the mentors that have helped me grow, the coaches who have taken time to share experiences and feedback. Last night I watched a former player coach a high school game. He has helped train my youngest son, having an impact on his development as a player, but also as a person. I have officiated weddings for family members and for kids I have coached. The impact of people who send texts of encouragement, thoughtfulness or appreciation that seem to appear exactly when they are needed. To have former players come back to referee at youth tournaments in which they used to participate or to show up to watch your son play a game. I have always stressed to people that you never know who you might impact, so be intentional with what you do and be aware.
Finally, I am Thankful for the feedback I get from those of you who take the time to read my posts. Some chose to respond on the site, others sent me a note and still others responded in person. I capture each one of those comments and use it to shape future posts, but also to shape who I am as a person. I am Thankful that I can learn from the feedback, the questions that my writing may have brought forth or how others interpreted what I had written. Knowing that there are moments that what I have to say has a positive impact on others, allows me to be Thankful Beyond Today.
I was standing at the sink, peeling some hard-boiled eggs for my breakfast. My daughter, who doesn’t eat eggs, walks into the kitchen as she is preparing to leave for work. Without looking up from peeling my eggs, I quickly ask if she would like me to peel her one knowing her response. Before she can respond, I chuckle out loud and say, “It never gets old!” She glares at me in disgust and says, “actually, it does.”
As I finished peeling the eggs with a smirk on my face as I took pleasure in my cleverness, my wife walked by and simply asked, “Why?” That is a great question. Am I wrong? To me, it never gets old. But to my daughter, it was old the very first time I said it, years ago. So, who is right? Me or my daughter? So, the answer is simple and obvious, both of us are correct because we are answering on how it makes us feel. We are not arguing in facts, but in feelings.
Friends and I were discussing our favorite place to eat on The Hill in St. Louis. What is great about that area, is that there are so many tremendous Italian restaurants that provide a variety of menus and surroundings that everyone can have a favorite. But interesting enough, it’s easy for people to share their opinions and discount the perspective of another. Hey, both of you can be right that your restaurant is the best. Because it’s how the restaurant makes you feel. Maybe it’s nostalgic because of a prior memory or celebration, maybe it’s the service or the food. But it is your perspective and it’s okay that someone has a differing opinion. Are you willing to lose a friend over it? Probably not.
Me and my best friend from high school enjoy collecting & sharing bourbon, which has become a popular activity in the U.S. I am a member of several bourbon sites on social media, and it always amazes me how people take such a hard line on their view of bourbons. If they don’t like it, they will make sure everyone is aware that they don’t like it and if you are crazy enough to enjoy that particular bourbon, then you are somehow unintelligent, unsophisticated, and quite possibly a fascist sociopath. Wow, it reminds me of politics!
What I also appreciate is the levelheaded people that will respond when they try a new bourbon and share their perspective. Amazing how you begin to listen to what they say, and you look for people who have similar perceptions as you. The reason I do this is that if I find someone who enjoys the same bourbons I do, then I can assume that we have a similar palate and if they recommend something I have not had, then I can trust that there is a good chance I would enjoy it as well.
So, we can both be right and wrong at the same time. Because with feelings and perspectives, it rarely is absolute. In my last post I spoke about how we view workloads from our own perspective and rarely take the opportunity to view from that of others. If you don’t expand outside of your own tastes, you will rarely grow. You can’t expand the palate of life, if you stay with your own inner circle, your own view, your own sense of right and wrong.
In a society that has become increasingly divided with political discourse, we quickly forget that we are not typically arguing facts, but feelings and perspectives. While some things are obvious from my perspective, I hear people argue to the opposite which I know is not true, but the facts they use support their perspective and so they stick to their position even harder. I’m not writing this to focus on who is right and who is wrong, but to serve as a reminder that feelings are our own. Perspectives are our own. The sooner we move away from debating feelings and instead try to understand feelings, the sooner we can embrace differing perspectives to help us come together Beyond Today.
Tom Brown - a husband and a father who is simply trying to make a difference. Using my experience as a Manufacturing Executive to connect leadership from the boardroom to the hardwood to help teams grow and develop to make a difference in the lives of others.