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Lessons, Gratitude, and Perspective by Dave LaRue

What crazy times. It's hard to decide what to write about for a variety of reasons. Each new wrinkle in events produces many questions. So much news, analysis, and opinion as the stories evolve day-to-day. Too much to sift through meaningfully, sometimes. Have you felt that too?

To separate what I really know and feel from all of the information I have to work with each day, I've found it essential to stop and reflect slowly. Not trying to solve problems, but spending time understanding what I'm thinking and feeling.

Over a lifetime of experience, I've found that I think more clearly and make better decisions when I find the good that exists and have gratitude. I used to think it only worked for me, but it turns out that it's just the way our minds work. We need to ground ourselves in these things to avoid rash reactions and decisions. What's easy—automatic, really—is reacting. What's hard can only be done intentionally: finding the opportunities in changes, seeing the good, and revealing what you can be grateful for and learn from. How are you doing this right now?

Typically, by this time of year, I would have already flown well over 100,000 miles. I'm only at 30,000. This number really helps me quantify the strangeness of the situation.

This windfall of time has had some great byproducts, though. Less time in airports means more time for family. There's more time for special projects. I've been able to connect a lot by phone, which somehow feels simultaneously fresh and nostalgic. In our businesses, we've been able to reevaluate our mission and our goals. And one of the most inspiring things I've had the privilege to witness is how the true champions in our businesses have risen to the challenge of not only surviving but thriving. I'm so grateful and proud.

One of the good habits I have built is based on this knowing that I can use all the experiences I have to learn and grow. Truthfully, there are still many times I have to work really hard to find the lesson in something. Especially when change seems overwhelming, it's easier to cave in to distractions or distract myself by trying to assign responsibility and blame. But of course, "Who did this?" is usually just another way of asking, "Who can I expect to help me fix this?" When I start to ask that first question, I ask the second one, too. If the answer is "no one but me," I stop looking for a loophole in the situation and get to work.

When I start to do this, I remind myself that it's time to be brave. I do not take for granted the bravery it takes to see uncertainty as something I will adapt to, rather than resist.

For example, it's been challenging to adapt my style to virtual meetings. I hear from lots of professionals that this is going to be part of the new normal. Truthfully, at this moment, that thought makes my whole body twitch. The ability to connect remotely is definitely serving my businesses well. But I am still learning how to create a free-flowing synergy of ideas and that powerful, intangible energy I valued and enjoyed in physical meetings.

Although virtual meetings will likely play a part in the future, I'm very excited to have a healthy balance of virtual and physical as we move forward. I find it very valuable to ask, What's working? What's not working? What's a problem to be solved, and what's just something new to adjust to? I'm regularly asking these questions as I navigate through challenges this year. What else might you ask yourself as you take on your challenges in 2020?

Keeping your perspective is also crucial. When changes first happen, they feel like a restriction. Because we aren't sure of how to proceed in a new environment, we begin with a sense of claustrophobia and limitation. Our old way of working doesn't work now. We feel less like ourselves and more like the challenge. It's like having to hunch down to walk through a tunnel. We only notice the demands of the situation. But as we live in a new situation for a while and gain understanding, our sense of being ourselves returns. We can stand up again. We have more options; we can do what works for us.

One way I'm keeping things in perspective is keeping in mind that whatever I do to create "the new normal" will be congruent with my values and preferences. Short-term solutions may have been about what was possible or expedient. But fully moving on and embracing the "new normal" will be all about working in the new environment in a way that works for us. So, while there will be many changes, there is no reason we have to change the same as everyone else. We will stay congruent with our company values and to our personal highest values. This will help us stay in harmony and keep us positive and happy.

So how to wrap up? This week, I hope you'll stop and reflect. Separate all the news you read from what you know and need to do. Look for lessons. Find what's good. Who or what are you grateful for? Keep your perspective; you're not in charge of changes, but you are in charge of your response.

But right now, I encourage you to take a moment to realize all the value you create. Beyond giving yourself some credit, it also reminds you that you're part of something bigger.

Think about the value you create for your teams and their families, your company, your community, clients, suppliers, service companies, attorneys, and accountants… there really are so many companies we make a difference to. That's what's so wonderful about the world we live in: we need each other. That's what makes it all go 'round. I know I love what I do. I love to make a difference in and with all the lives I'm honored to touch. I hope you're keeping in touch with that feeling now, too.

So, whatever role you play, be your best, be positive, embrace change, have gratitude, and let go of your past so you can enjoy today. We're going to make it through whatever comes our way. Let me know if I can help.

All the best,



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