Little Gifts


As I was driving to work earlier this week, there was an absolutely incredible sunrise. The mottled clouds almost glowed with vivid shades of orange and pink. Within a few minutes, the majesty was gone. It was still a pretty sunrise, but nothing like the stop-you-in-your-tracks beauty from a few minutes before.

Our lives are filled with little gifts like that sunrise, if only we take the time to notice. The thing is, they don’t happen on command. If I had been distracted by the multiple lists scrolling in my head or the rehashing of some issue from the day before, I might have totally missed the beauty of that moment. And there is no way to go back and say, “Okay, I’ve finished what I was doing so now I’m ready to focus on the sunrise.” Sorry, you missed it. Can’t get it back.

Leadership is hard work. It takes energy and focus and sometimes there are no easy answers to the challenges before you. Given that, it is all the more important for leaders to soak in the little gifts . . . to fuel them for the tough stuff that might be around the next corner. And yet so often we leave those gifts unopened. We miss the compliment because we are busy thinking about what we are going to say next. We don’t take the time for the potluck or informal social gathering to connect with our friends and colleagues. We totally look past the spring flowers or the fall colors because we have our head down and nose to the grindstone.

Yes, I know, your schedule is already filled to the brim. Here’s the great thing about little gifts. It took me no additional time the other morning to take a deep breath and soak in the sunrise . . . or to take a different route to a meeting so I can enjoy a tree draped in brilliant fall colors. How long does it take to send a text to someone to let them know you are thinking about them, or to glance up at an electronic photo frame scrolling pictures of family and friends? Seriously, I don’t care how busy you think you are, you can spare the 30 seconds for a little gift. In the midst of a lousy day, savoring a dove chocolate and smiling at the message on the inside of the wrapper, “It’s ok to be fabulous and flawed!” . . . might be just the little gift you need to help you tackle the challenge before you.

No matter how hard the leadership journey may be on any given day, moments of respite are available to you . . . if only you take the time to notice and celebrate the little gifts.

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