The Small Things
“Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment, and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh
Gratitude comes like a whisper, quietly when we open our hearts and allow ourselves to take in the small wonders that surround us. I was out for my morning walk, wet hair, a little too cold for comfort and regretting my decision to leave the house without a hat when a neighbor opened her door and exclaimed, “you need a hat”. She came out moments later with a woolen cap and off I went wearing a warm hat and happily filled with gratitude.
These simple acts of kindness, the moments we take to actually stop and allow ourselves to see other people, their joy, their sorrow, their need for humanity, this is what gratitude can feel like.
When we notice small changes in the universe the changing colors in the natural world from the pale green leaves beginning to come back after a long winter to the magnificent brilliant colors as the leaves bid us goodbye in the fall. When we stop and take note of the beauty that surrounds us, this is what gratitude can feel like.
Each of us move through the world in many different ways, as parents and children, friends and partners, siblings, colleagues, and leaders and of course as individuals. In each of these roles we have the chance to experience gratitude and to be a part of communal gratitude. This is a time of year, as we move toward Thanksgiving to ask ourselves, “what are we grateful for, and what have we done that might have helped another person experience gratitude.”
Our organizations and institutions are microcosms of our larger world, they are the sum total of our collective selves.
During this particularly difficult time when so many are experiencing isolation, illness, fear and longing what have we done as leaders to support our institutional community?
Have we checked in on our colleagues, do we know who might be having a more difficult time right now, are we providing the emotional support to those who need it most? Have we stopped and really seen and heard those we work with?
As we move toward winter with shorter days, cold weather that keeps us inside and we remain in isolation from one another it may prove to be more difficult to summon our gratitude. However, this is when we need to dig deep and commit to ourselves that we will notice the small acts of kindness, the humanity around us, and the beauty of the natural world. We need to feel the gratitude for the lives we have been given and offer the same to others. As leaders, it is incumbent upon us to ask how the people around us are doing and take notice of them, to show people they matter and we see them.
We do this as friends, as partners, as parents and children and we do this as leaders, we give gratitude for the warm hat on a cold day, the act of kindness that is the best of humanity. As we sit together or perhaps alone on Thanksgiving, let’s take a moment to count the small things that bring delight to our lives and hold on to those thoughts in the days ahead. •
Carole Zawatsky believes that tapping the greatest strengths of each individual and teaching them to work toward their natural talents builds the self-confidence needed to grow as a professional. She has excelled at supporting professionals in finding their voice, and letting go of the fears that might hold them back. She is particularly passionate about helping senior staff understand and align their budgets with the institutional mission and vision.
Conscient Strategies was founded with the idea that every organization is capable of thriving through change. With a focus on strategy development, program implementation, workplace dynamics, and leadership development, Conscient Strategies equips leaders with the tools necessary to continuously navigate the constancy of change in ways that not only benefit their team, but, equally as important, their business outcomes as well. From mergers to c-suite changes to sudden or explosive growth, organizations turn to Conscient Strategies when change is threatening their financial health and cultural wellbeing.
Based in Washington, D.C., Conscient Strategies is comprised of a talented group of consultants, executive coaches, strategists, and account executives. The team has worked with organizations of all sizes in the private, federal, and non-profit sectors across the United States and Internationally.
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