Leadership Between the Lines

Gratitude…The quickest energy shifter I know to deal with disappointment

With Thanksgiving around the corner, one of my very favorite days, I find myself in a swirl of gratitude for the people in my life, the business that I get to be a part of, the clients that do this work with us, my adorable kids who show me everyday the gift of unconditional love and goodness, my husband who supports me and makes doing this work and doing the "mom/ceo" thing easier, and so much more. Am I gushing? Yes, a tad.

Earlier this week I recorded a new video…you can see it by clicking here. It's about gratitude and it's about 3:30 minutes. After the quick recording, I'd intended to follow it up with a blog post to talk about the power of gratitude. The power of mindset. The power of everything great. AND along the way…I received the gift of a challenge to work my own stuff (which happens more than folks might realize.) Literally as I sat down to write the new shiny happy post, literally…I received a "nasty" phone call (the deliverer was great, the message stunk.) And it gave me the opportunity to reconnect with that place of gratitude to get out of a #$%^ mood. ;-)

That phone call was the delivery of a major disappointment. Completely out of my control. Despite best efforts. Despite a good attitude. Despite gratitude. (Nothing I could do about it, which is actually what makes it harder, right?) The long story short of it is that 3 weeks out from closing the sale on our house and moving into our new house…our buyers "walked." As in "Walked. Changed their minds. Broke contract. Found a loop hole. Broke some Golden Rules. Left us in a pretty yucky spot." Despite being through all the hoops…and having a really clean arrangement. In a nutshell…it was a bummer. And our kids were devastated. Now in the big scheme of things…this is NO big deal. There are much bigger problems in the world and much more meaningful things to be disappointed about. In fact, truthfully, as I write this, it feels almost self indulgent, bordering silly, to be sharing this event in our lives as something that required "getting over" and tapping into gratitude…again…big scheme of things – not a big deal. And, in the moment…in service of emotional authenticity…it sucked. There were a lot of people and businesses impacted by this decision (our agents, the movers who were scheduled in 10 days, the builder we were buying from, and the kids who'd already mapped out their plans, not to mention our dog Ruckus's yard being postponed yet again.) Many ripple effects…not the greatest ones…

And, in the midst of this (after some processing time), we all came back to "life is good"….there is a ton to be grateful for. An unlimited amount. For even in the midst of all of this…I know there's a reason this deal didn't go to plan. Didn't mean I had to love it. Didn't even mean I had to be grateful for it (there's that emotional authenticity again!) BUT…I did have a choice if I wanted to let it tank my energy which would do NO ONE any good. So here's what I did….(And please note, I share this because I get the question ALL the time "how can I be grateful or have a good attitude when something is out of my control and it sucks?")

  1. I had a major temper tantrum in my office. I called my sister in and cried my eyes out. I mimicked a sailor for a bit. Had a good fit. Thought about what this all meant. Let it sink in. Took it personally. Imagined the drama of telling our kids. (This took about 38 minutes.) (This would go under the category of recognize and acknowledge the emotions that are coming up.)
  2. I gave myself full permission to get it out, to be mad, upset, disappointed, bewildered, hurt, etc. (Forgive the "ugly" - we think it's ugly – it's not, it's necessary. In fact, avoiding the ugly just makes it worse…that's another article.)
  3. Once that was out of my system, I got into "okay, these are the facts…what's next" mode. What's real? What am I taking personally? This is business. There is a better plan. Do not take this personal. There is a reason. Kids are resilient (dogs even more so.) Life is good. Let's go. I called our agent and we worked on a plan. (Don't make it personal and consciously choose what to change or shift to move forward.)
  4. I went for a quick run, grabbed a good meal, went to parent teacher conferences, came back to the office for a client call, and wrapped up some emails to clients. (Falls under self-care and being in service of others and creating space for perspective.)
  5. I explored our options, met with our agent on this end, and then went and grabbed my kids from camp.
  6. Went home, made a good meal, opened a bottle of wine…and thought about how grateful I am that we're all healthy, all together, and all back in California…this too shall pass. I actually watched the video I'd recorded not 7 hours before to help me "re-boot"… (Gratitude and get help where needed and listen to your own internal wisdom…you KNOW the truth.)
  7. Note: it's not a perfect science…throughout the whole process I gave myself space to acknowledge the pings of anger and sadness and sheer irritation of the impact of the event…(Reality check!)

You'll notice there's a lot of transparency in this. That's on purpose, because it's real. It's true. And I hope sharing it is helpful in someway. Now, a quick note on authentic emotion. Often people think that leadership is about not being allowed to be scared, mad, frustrated, or to "not know" - this is a lie. Here's the truth…we're all human, and actually I find that the best leaders I know allow themselves that permission and space for authentic emotion…they just know how and when to manage it and express it. So here you go: be where you are – it's okay – don't deny it…do the "ugly"… AND manage it – do it in a place that is appropriate (ie. Had I gone into my team meeting or a client meeting and had a fit, taking it out on them, that would be poor leadership self management.) Closing my door and reaching out for trusted support allowed me to work through it more quickly in a safe space and get to a better resource state to make the changes necessary to move forward. Gratitude and the list following above, helped me to create better space and better energy to move forward in. Make sense? Did I do it perfectly? Have I behaved perfectly around the whole thing? NO. And I have great learning. And actually, as I write this I wonder what "perfect" would look like in this case, ha! The whole thing has been a dance of emotions and the one emotion that I know I can count on, and keep coming back to, is the emotion of…yes….gratitude.

And today? I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all the people in my life and our agents and my family and if I say more it'll be gushing again, but it's true. And I also have a new sense of relief and surrender now, that everything, though it doesn't make sense and it sucks in the moment, will be fine. Oddly, I'm totally excited to go get my kids and play HARD after they finish school for the week and I finish up at Bootist Headquarters…

So party people….what are you grateful for? How do you deal with disappointment and tough situations? How do you use gratitude to shift energy and create better resource states to make decisions from? I really want to know. Chime in!

Here's that gratitude video again.

Post note: 5 days after the bummer phone call, we got a better phone call with another buyer. Let's see how this unfolds…. :-)