Tag Archives: Gratitude

Gratitude

27 Nov

iStock_000028332104LargeThe list of things for which I am thankful is way too long to fit into a post that anyone would actually read. The past year has brought a shower of blessings that in sum represent what many would consider to be their wildest fantasies; close friends, good business, smart students, dedicated colleagues, great clients, amazing children and beautiful grandchildren, an understanding spouse, exotic travels, and a small tropical island that we get to call our own.

Yes, there are many, many things to be thankful for this year. There are specific innovations in healthcare, transportation, food, fitness and shopping that have made my life immeasurably better. However, when I dig really deep and reflect on the past year, there are two things which top the gratitude list: work that makes me feel alive and the opportunity to work with my closest friends.

Not many people get to make their living doing work that makes them come alive. I can honestly say that I love what I do and am thankful that it gives me energy. I still have the drive twenty-five years into an extremely blessed career to continue putting in regular eighty-hour weeks. Each week, I work with clients on their product development challenges, mentor staff, write about innovation, run a business, teach two college classes, advise entrepreneurs, and help market a beautiful resort. I always exercise and, occasionally, I sleep. I don’t love every minute of every day. Some of it is drudgery, but the large proportion of my work that makes me feel strong is an extraordinary blessing that I cannot ignore.

The opportunity to work with my closest friends is another gift that I count as a treasure. One of the reasons I am so excited about what I do is because of who I get to do it with. The talented professionals that populate my life bring me joy, vitality, and a sense of purpose. There is nothing more gratifying than watching a young leader grow into a fully formed professional adult that possesses presence and confidence. My colleagues at Kalypso, Housley students, Stelos Alliance stakeholders, advisory board members, and my team at Royal Belize are all part of a family that I hold very near and dear. They make me look smart and I cannot imagine life without them.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday. I am so grateful for all of life’s blessings and hope that you will find fulfillment and happiness in the year ahead. Gratitude is a powerful thing. Spread it around and see.

Memorial Gratitude

26 May

USFlag2

It is early morning on Memorial Day in the United States. It rained last night and it is surprisingly cool. On mornings like this a ribbon of mist hangs over the river a quarter of a mile to the north. The fog snakes its way through the valley like a river suspended in the air. Sitting on the back porch sipping coffee I can hear an axis buck snorting in the trees to the east. It is going to be a great day.

Having spent several days earlier this month as a guest of the Air Force, I understand Memorial Day better than ever and have a much greater appreciation for its meaning. The debt we owe to our service members past and present can never be repaid. Acknowledging that obligation is the first step in an attempt to discharge the debt. I have written about this before in an essay titled “The Debt”.

I hit the sweetest of sweet spots in the martial history of the United States. Born in 1966, the war in Vietnam was long over by the time I turned eighteen. The Gulf War in 1990 was over in less than six months and was happening a million miles away from my then home base in Hawaii. Nothing was ever asked or required of me. What then should I do to show my gratitude to those men and women living and dead that made and continue to make my comfortable, back porch way of life possible?

While there is no way for me to fully repay the debt I owe to my country for the opportunities I have enjoyed, I can knowingly acknowledge the obligation for the tremendous benefits we share from our collective history. Thank you to my great uncles that fought World War II, to my uncles for their sacrifices in Southeast Asia, for my younger cousins and nephews in Afghanistan, and for my many friends throughout the military. Memorial Day is your day. I salute you in gratitude.

2013 Kalypsonian of the Year

3 Oct

9792355935_04a40cf613_o

I was at a recruiting event in Texas last week and was asked the question, “What are the attributes you value when evaluating candidates?”

The first part of the answer was easy and boring. I said we want reliable people that possess a strong work ethic, creative types with sharp minds, and leaders that have demonstrated ability and ambition.

But what is it that makes the people of Kalypso special?

The people of Kalypso are so much more than just those great professional attributes I listed. They are as humble as they are smart, as funny as they are fearless, and they radiate positivity as they support their clients, colleagues, and compadres. They might have graduated at the top of their class, but they still know how to have fun in a state school kind of way. Most of the people on the team are a little bit quirky (this is a polite word for weird.)

In 2013, the person that best exemplified the Kalypso brand of professional was Colin Speakman – our Kalypsonian of the Year.

For the rest of the year he is only to be referred to as “Your Highness, Mr. Colin Speakman, Kalypsonian of the Year.” No abbreviations, shortcuts or informalities allowed.

The choice was not difficult. Colin is the Kalypso prototype. Not only is he an incredibly competent consultant, he displays all of the characteristics we admire in our colleagues. He is a great father and he accepts the fact that he is inferior to his wife in basketball, fishing, and just about any other activity that requires either brains or athletic skills.

Colin knows more about barbeque sauce than anyone else I know. As a kid in upstate New York he wanted to grow up to be a pumpkin farmer. Colin smiles a lot. He either knows something you don’t, or maybe he is just goofy that way. We all love Colin and I am proud to have him as a colleague and even happier to call him a friend.

Colin is an optimist and a dreamer. He is a Cleveland Browns season ticket holder.

At least he can say that he won something this year. Congratulations Mr. Kalypsonian of the Year!

The Debt

4 Jul

I was in debt the day I was born.

By pure luck, that happy event occurred in the United States. My parents, who are still married after 49 years, were free to have me. That was 1966 and my freedom was more or less secure. I was free to grow up to be whatever I wanted to be. According to my mother that even included becoming President of this great country. As there always have been, there were external threats to our way of life, but I certainly felt safe in my Mayberry-like hometown. This freedom was bought at a dear price by multiple generations before me and secured by a military comprised of people from all walks of life. I owed them something for our shared heritage.

I was well educated by wonderfully committed teachers – including my mother and grandmother – in public schools where US history and civics were still an important part of the curriculum. The prevailing culture valued hard work and moral behavior. Volunteers throughout the community played a role in my upbringing. There were little league coaches, scout masters, Sunday school teachers, and occasionally law enforcement officers involved in my raising. When I was ten, we celebrated our country’s bicentennial and we were reminded of our patrimony. The recognition of my debt was reinforced.

Compulsory military service in the United States ended in my teens, so after high school the people of the great State of Texas paid for me to go to college and then heavily subsidized my graduate education at a world-class university. From there, I went on to live the American Dream of raising a family, doing a job that I love, starting a business, enjoying financial security, and loving the freedoms of life in United States. It has been a good life that was only possible because of the liberties we enjoy in this exceptional country.

What has been asked of me in return for the gift of my heritage? Not much. Society asks that I obey the few laws we have that seek to restrain our more destructive behaviors and that I pay my share of the operations of our collective efforts through taxation. I do not believe that this is sufficient to discharge the debt I owe to my country for the opportunities I have enjoyed. This is why I am committed to service.

I reject the notion of the “self-made” man in the United States and the idea that if you “didn’t ask for anything from society” then you owe nothing in return. By luck of birth you were granted an enormous advantage. If you knowingly acknowledge that, then you can’t in good conscience ignore the debt you owe your patrimony. We receive tremendous benefits from our collective history. We have a civic obligation to recognize these benefits and to make an extraordinary effort to ensure our future success.

I remain in debt, and on this Fourth of July, I suspect that you do too.

Gratitude

21 Apr

We wrapped up the Stelos Alliance’s spring session of the Housley Principled Leadership Program yesterday on the fourth anniversary of Kevin’s death. This scheduling coincidence made the gratitude offered by the students a perfect tribute to our departed friend. The lessons learned in “Housley” memorialize a great man and set extraordinary young leaders on a learning path that will last a lifetime.

The topic of the final session is, “Service: Choice or Obligation?” This is a conversation about what we as citizens owe to our country. Is there something required beyond lawful behavior and paying taxes? Since it has now been two generations since we last had conscripted military service in the United States, even defense feels like a remote responsibility. How then do young citizens acknowledge the advantages bestowed upon them by their heritage? Is there a debt that is due to our patrimony and, if so, how and to whom should it be repaid? These are questions for us all to consider.

While we talked about the changing national ethos regarding service to country we concluded that the benefits that accrue to the giver are substantial and that systematically uniting the privilege of citizenship with responsibility is essential to preserving the long-term health of the republic. The students in the Housley program can articulate the benefits of being raised in the best country on earth. Far from being needy and narcissistic, these student leaders are prepared to dedicate themselves to serving their country and setting an example for their peers.

This is something that would make our friend, Kevin Housley, very proud. He offered himself to the community in numerous official roles and to the country in countless other capacities. He lived by the principles that we teach in the program. As the HPLP instructor and giver in this instance, I can positively proclaim that I benefit at least as much as the students. This goes well beyond the satisfaction of hearing their voiced appreciation. I learn from teaching, and it is making me a better leader. The program is both a gift from and a tribute to my good friend. It seems like yesterday that we gathered in the church to say goodbye. After four years I still miss him very much. I offer my gratitude.

%d bloggers like this: