A Season of Appreciation: What 2020 Taught Me About Gratitude

Despite the challenges this year has laid at all our feet, I still choose to actively count my many blessings

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Finding gratitude has been hard these last few months to say the least – but there are always things to be thankful for.

First and always foremost, I am grateful for my family. 

Social distancing provided us a unique opportunity to get closer. Interestingly, the most important people in our lives are often the same people we lose sight of in the busyness of the week. 

What a rare chance we had to actually slow down as a family and connect on a deeper level through meaningful, honest, real talk this year.

After spending so much time together, some of the conversations were deep and hard – the kind of conversations we’re sometimes secretly relieved we’re too busy to have, but I’m grateful to have achieved the breakthroughs and closeness that they yielded. 

They also provided me with a reminder to continue to make time for those conversations with those most important to me even after life returns to ‘normal.’

So despite the circumstances that brought the world to its knees, it was a chance to spend priceless time with those who I hold most dear. 

I’m grateful for the opportunity to assume the role of CEO at the start of 2020.

It was a humbling and honoring moment. I’ve been here since the very beginning. BELAY is a guiding light and a home for me, so I’m proud and honored to be leading.

But I’d be remiss if I were only grateful for the good part of that promotion. So … 

I’m also grateful for the challenges this year has presented.

Becoming CEO – despite the unimaginable insanity that has become the hallmark of 2020 – is still one of the most humbling honors of my life.

This year presented incredibly unique opportunities to ‘hunt the elephant’ as we say, approached with four P’s: perspective, patience, pivots and a plan.

It was a masterclass in humility and agility. Things don’t always quite go as expected. It happens. It’s 2020, after all.

But my job isn’t to wallow. To worry. To bury my head and hope for the best. Our team of nearly 1,200 turns to me for guidance, support and comfort – and I consider that a privilege.

Each misstep was a diamond-in-the-rough opportunity to continue building trust through open, honest communication and repeated efforts. There’s no winning-and-losing here; just winning-and-learning.

I know that ultimately, no single challenge or crisis will define me or my legacy as a leader. So as long as I stay nimble, humble and honest with myself and those I lead, each obstacle will pass and I will be a better leader for it – and I’m grateful for that.

I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned – or those that have been reinforced – this year.

When I’m struggling to find gratitude, I instead choose to give it away. I start by expressing more gratitude for those around me. Compliments and thank yous for a job well done. More encouragement than ever. 

I try to express more gratitude even when the mood may not strike. This, in turn, fosters gratitude in return.

It creates a gratitude loop of giving and receiving and that creates momentum which leads to more joy for all involved. 

I’m grateful for the seemingly small things that make big impacts.

I seek to find three things each morning to write down – even the smallest things like ‘I am grateful for hot tea on a fall morning. It makes me feel warm and peaceful.’ Or ‘I am grateful for my daughter who is silly and makes me laugh every day.’

The ‘small’ things really add up and for that, I’m grateful.

I’m grateful for our clients.

I’m grateful for our clients who have placed their trust in us to provide them the support they need to climb higher. 

To have clients and customers, in good times and bad, is a privilege – and that mindset is what distinguishes BELAY from others. We are truly blessed to have the confidence and trust of those we serve.

And that honor isn’t lost on me.

I’m grateful for each and every one of our team members.

They are the lifeblood of our organization. Our boots-on-the-ground. The wind beneath our wings. 

Our organization would, quite literally, be nothing without them. They are the cavalry that stays in the trenches with me, has courageous conversations, and shares my vision for the greater good.

When I take time off, I know my team totally has it covered. They are clear on their jobs, are empowered to take care of whatever comes their way and I am honored by them – and truly grateful that I can step away as needed with confidence because they are invested in BELAY’s success as much as I am.

Our team shows up every day with servants’ hearts to serve our clients so well. Without them, BELAY would not be where it is today – and our future wouldn’t be so bright.

I’m grateful for my seriously extraordinary leadership team. 

And I’m especially grateful that I got to meet face-to-face with my leadership team at my home a few weeks ago. 

We spent a lot of time talking about 2021 – KPIs, metrics, morale, everything that will take us from where we are to where we’re going. And my lead team helps me cast that vision and make it a reality year after year.

I’m grateful for every win we’ve had this year, both big and small.

Some wins are small – maybe even imperceptible to the untrained eye – but a win is a win and merits recognition. And when the going gets tough, every small win is a step in the right direction.

But our big wins? Oh, they’re big-big. 

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