Thanksgiving-Colored Glasses

May I jumpstart your Thanksgiving week?

I enjoin you to lead those around you to Give Thanks. As Kouzes & Posner wrote, and I have many times shared, “only challenge produces the opportunity for greatness.” 2020 has been a non-stop challenge. This week we can stop – we have that capacity – to see all the greatness that’s been emerging….yes, even as the political and environmental challenges continue. I am thankful for:

  1. Heroic human capacity. I am grateful and inspired by Ellen Kinch, one of our kids’ best friends, who chooses to practice her nursing work on a covid unit in L.A.  And SO many like Elle. 
  2. Generosity. I am grateful for Ken who tips as much or more than the meal. And for all the people who are reaching out to their retailers, neighbors, church members – keeping people on payrolls, bringing food to seniors, or acting in so many other kind ways. 
  3. Adaptive capacity. Sara Sietestki who leads I.T. at the Haas School of Business where I teach is one of the thousands of techsters, teachers, teenagers and toddlers who look for ways to make lemonade out of this banner crop of lemons falling upon us.  Zoom ain’t all that, but it is amazing!
  4. Science. Imagine the panic and devastation were we living only a century ago. I give thanks for Fauci :-).  For Pfizer, Astra-Zeneca, Moderna and others. 
  5. Acceptance.  I’m thinking acceptance…of risk tolerance. In a big Catholic family like ours we could line up 100 of us on a spectrum of risk tolerance with this menace. We’re all over that line. And overwhelmingly we all accept that people are entitled to manage risk as each sees fit.    
  6. America’s awesome political system. Our body politic remains on the tilted treadmill of its most enduring stress test since the Civil War. While the executive branch exerts powers heretofore unimagined, and while legislatures are – as was anticipated – political, two things hold out hope:  a judiciary that enforces a “rule of law.” And:
  7. A populace that believes in that rule of law and in the sanctity of the vote. Twenty-three million more people turned out to vote this November.  

For what will you give thanks, as you 

Lead with your best self?

  • Dan, I have come to expect challenges from you. This one is excellent. Our situation can be indescribable but we can find things, people ways to be thankful.

  • Dan, Thank you for the shoutout. One of the most important findings from our research on Personal-Best Leadership Experiences is that challenge, adversity, and uncertainty were present in every single story about times when leaders performed at their best. Challenge opens doors to creativity, innovation, and doing things never previously imagined.

  • Dan, I have thought so much about our class and am grateful for the power of defining moments… both the obstacles, but now more than ever, where we have triumphed. We all need to call on those defining moments of triumph… to revisit what it was that lifted us up to achievement… the inner fortitude it took not to be discouraged… the courage to understand there is greatness out there, if someone just like us – no, if we – seize it… even if greatness is defined by simply returning to normal. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Ken,
      “even if greatness is defined by simply returning to normal”
      In a culture obsessed with “standout” greatness, your oxymoron of “normal greatness” is a good reminder.
      Isn’t Thanksgiving a celebration of that: finding the goodness, richness, savor in what we can easily lose track of.

  • Very cool! Seven big ones. Thanks for the tops-down approach…keeping the bigger picture in focus. I especially like “adaptive capacity.” Resilience and Innovative Adaptation.

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