Exploring the assumptions or stories behind people’s behavior is a fascinating pursuit. Recently a friend told me a wild story about his mother that gave me cause to think about how our stories keep us stuck--from improving and creating the results that we really want.
While I was in college, I worked during the summers as a whitewater guide running the rapids in Grand Canyon, Arizona. One of the first things that you learn as a guide is to follow the current of the river downstream.
At the beginning of a new year, we often begin new projects and set goals for ourselves. Many times our attempts at improvement are not as successful or don’t deliver the results that we expected. When this happens, it is easy to become discouraged.
Recently, I was looking for an opportunity to write something about gratitude. Being stuck in an airport and waiting for a flight that had been cancelled gave me the opportunity to interview people and ask them what they were most grateful for. So, I wandered around the gate area, introduced myself, and told people that I wanted to write an article about the Thanksgiving holiday, and I asked if I could ask them one question: “What are you most grateful for?” Everyone stopped to think and then answered. It was a great way to pass the three hours.
Last week my 9-year old daughter came to me and asked, “Daddy, which is greater, love or gratitude?” I was initially shocked at the depth of her question. After thinking for a moment, I responded with, “
May 1st in the United States was Loyalty Day. It is a day when citizens acknowledge and affirm their allegiance to the country and to their heritage of American freedom. The U.S. Congress designated May 1st as Loyalty Day on July 18, 1958.
This year’s annual observance gave me cause to reflect on the loyalty that leaders and employees have to each other. One of my clients recently finished their analysis of the annual employee opinion survey and discovered that if employees had the opportunity to take another job they would do so. The survey also identified that upper management was aloof or estranged from their team members. It isn’t hard to interpret that the lack of connection among leaders and their teams or the individuals who work for them would result in various forms of discontent that would impact morale and performance. This situation seems to be even more prevalent today as more emphasis is placed on the bottom line and less on the manager-employee relationship.
The holiday season is a wonderful time to gather with family and friends to celebrate and share time together. However, it’s all too common that when families get together, someone does or says something that offends another family member. Perhaps someone makes a comment about the poor manners of another family member’s children. Or perhaps someone comments on what ugly apparel their spouse is wearing. Maybe someone protests forcefully when another suggests an activity that everyone should go out together to do. Whatever the issue, the filters come down, people blame one another, make rude comments, and offer unwanted advice that causes other family members to take offense.
As the year comes to an end, I have become increasingly disturbed at some of the behavior that we have witnessed this year. How can we justify a person driving their car into a group of innocent bystanders? Or a group of young boys lighting a handicapped boy on fire because he was different? Or when was it ever appropriate to burn and destroy the property of others as a way of expressing disagreement? Can we judge others based solely on opinion in the absence of concrete evidence?