As I was studying my favorite book again this week, I was reminded of an incredible leader, Paul, who had been imprisoned, shackled, and facing severe persecution. Yet, he still encouraged his followers to rejoice no matter the circumstances. We can learn a lot from Paul… especially as we approach Thanksgiving during COVID-19, a pandemic of epic proportions. Rejoice! Again, I say rejoice. Well, Paul, how do we do that? If Paul could speak to us directly today, I believe he would tell us to forge an attitude of gratitude. He gives us three principles to follow.
1. We can forge an attitude of gratitude by exercising our faith with a disposition of thankfulness. Not only was Paul a great leader; he was also a man of faith. His faith propelled him to ask for more while being grateful for what he already had. He believed better days were ahead of him. Great leaders inspire a shared vision. They can see a better future and yet be thankful for their past and current successes. As we lead our organizations or teams into tomorrow, let’s celebrate the victories of yesterday and appreciate the progress of today. Our probability of a better future lies in our decisions in the present. A disposition of thankfulness leads to a clearer head that allows us to make better choices.
2. We can forge an attitude of gratitude by taking every thought captive. Paul actually thought about what he was thinking about. Bad things happen to good people. This is a fact of life. Paul could have focused on the negative events in his life or he could have appreciated the good that he still had. He chose to focus on the positive aspects of his life. Even during the worse of times, there is good. Every cloud has a silver lining. Victor Frankl, an Austrian Holocaust survivor, neurologist, psychiatrist, and author, was the founder of logotherapy (literally “healing through meaning”). His theory is a conviction that the primary human drive is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but rather the discovery and pursuit of what the individual finds meaningful. When we discover our purpose, we find our significance. If we think more about our “why” we can better deal with our “what” and “how”. This brings peace because our emotions follow our thoughts. Take every thought captive by keeping some, modifying others, and discarding the rest. Think about what you are thinking about.
3. We can forge an attitude of gratitude by remembering the source of our strength. Paul was not complacent but he learned to be content in all situations. He had a source of strength that was greater than himself. His source was his faith. My source is my faith. Dr. Frankl’s source was his search for meaning. Paul understood there were several things that he could not do. So he did what he could do. During this pandemic, there are many things that we cannot do. However, there are just as many things that we can do. Tapping into our source of strength can reveal the possibilities. It can allow us to unleash the creativity that has been stifled inside many of us for so long. It is easy to lead when things are going well. Leading in a crisis or through severe hardship is what reveals the true leader. It is imperative to know and embrace our source of strength especially as we make life-altering decisions that can impact so many. I am grateful because I know my source. What or who is your source?