As news reports about Covid-19 spreading across Asia in mid-February, my mother pleaded with me at her 85th birthday dinner in Phoenix, “please don’t go and take the risk. Stay in the US and be safe. Don’t make me ground you like I did when you were a kid.” “Mom, I have to honor my commitments and speak to the groups that hired me.” “You’ll see, they will all cancel.” And sure enough, my Mom jinxed the trip! All but one cancelled. And on March 18th after my last speech, I flew back to Colorado.
One thing that I’m grateful for is that every time I face a challenge in my life, my thoughts always turn to what I’m grateful for. When my car was stolen, my thoughts turned to how lucky I was to have a car and so many of life’s luxuries. When I left my passport on a plane in Tokyo and had to turn around and miss a wedding in Singapore of a close buddy, my thoughts turned from sadness to the great fortune of having the opportunity to fly to places I love around the world. When I had a heart attack while at the hospital, I was grateful to be so lucky to have a heart attack at the hospital and get a second chance at life.
The Silver Lining
And now this! Covid-19. What’s the silver lining? What is the blessing? What is it we are supposed to learn? I trust the gift is different for every person. A good place to start is to realize that things happen the best for the people that make the best out of the things that happen. If you come from the perspective of knowing that there are many gifts in this pandemic, then your focus will be on finding the gifts and making the most of them instead of playing the self-pity game and longing for the way life used to be.
So, let’s look for the gifts! On a personal level, what is it for you? What did you learn about yourself? What will you do differently? What insights did you learn about your relationships? Your values? Beliefs? What will be different about you moving forward?
As we look to create a more meaningful future, I’m reminded of one of my favorite Buddhist prayers, Grant that I may be given appropriate difficulties and sufferings on this journey, so that my heart may be truly awakened and my practice of liberation and universal compassion may be truly filled. For it is felt that if we have no struggles in life, we have no opportunity for genuine growth. Anyone feel they have had too much opportunity for genuine growth in the past few months? Anyone not sure how to use this experience in your life to create a more meaningful future?
Turn on your GPS.
As you’re creating the desired future for you, keep your GPS turned on. As in Gratitude, Play, and Surprise.
Appreciating the life that we have and those that we share it with. The gratitude of making a difference in the lives of others. One idea that I have found helpful in keeping your focus outward and not inward is Hero of the Day.
Reach out to one person every day and let them know how grateful you are for them being in your life. You can use the actual term “hero of the day” or just let them know you are grateful. Get creative about the way you honor them. If once a day is too much for you, try doing it once a week. It is guaranteed to make them feel better and you as well. “Fragrance always clings to the hand that gives roses.
Play starts with accepting our current reality… all of the pressure, stress, anxiety, and heartache we may have at any given time. It’s the ability to let go of anger, resentment, blame, and all negative emotions of the past and focus positively on the present. Play is being in the state of flow, accepting the current moment, and making the most of it.
Play starts with a good sense of humor. It’s learning to laugh at ourselves. If you can laugh at yourself, you will always be amused. Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, when asked how he created such an amazing learning environment at General Electric replied, he encouraged his employees to take their work seriously and take themselves lightly. Good advice for all. Ask yourself the question, “do you want it to be fun?” Hopefully, the answer is yes. Then the next question is, “how can I make this more fun?” Create opportunities and take responsibility for making it more fun.
The element of the Unexpected. It’s serving with kindness and empathy. It is catching people doing something good and rewarding them with something they would appreciate. It’s finding out what’s high on their joy list and honoring them with that. It can be something as simple as finding out their favorite candy or snack and hiding it in their workspace or where they are sure to find it. One of my favorite ways to surprise others is by capturing a photo off of Facebook or Instagram and sending it to a company to put on a mug. Then I will either hide the mug where they will eventually discover it or drink out of the mug when we are together and see how long it takes to notice. I’ve had wait staff serve my honorees coffee or tea in those photo mugs which always brings a laugh when they finally figure it out. Recently, I sent my neighbors, 6 of them, pizza as a surprise to have some fun and lighten up the pandemic a little. We received some fun gifts back and it seems there are more smiles around the neighborhood because of it.
Royal Plaza on Scotts in Singapore who wins the award for Surprise in the book, Celebrate! Lessons Learned from the World’s Most Admired Organizations, continually surprise employees and guests. When I asked how they had the time to do this, they responded, “it’s a mindset”. The Marketing/Branding Department said at every meeting they brainstorm the possibilities of how best to surprise those celebrating something special. It’s easier than you may think if you focus on it.