Abundance, Gratitude and Ambition

November 19, 2012

This week we celebrate our American Thanksgiving.  Canada celebrated theirs a few weeks ago, and other countries have their own schedules, but this week America pauses to reflect and give thanks.

I know (and love!) that Thanksgiving has become a favorite time for family reunions, enormous feasts, and football.   This is good!

But it is also appropriate to pause and reflect. As much or more than other nations, we have a unique story.

Modern America began with a group of refugees washed up on the shores of theNew World.  They braved the Atlantic in tiny, leaking ships, leaving family and everything familiar behind, knowing that for most of them it was a one-way trip.  They were a desperate bunch, seeking liberty, freedom of religion, and (at least in part) adventure.

The first year, they nearly starved.  They tried forming a communal society, but it quickly broke down and so they divided up the land into personal plots, encouraged individual effort, and by the second year they had cause to celebrate.  They gave thanks.

As we have our day of Thanksgiving, I encourage you to ponder the relationship between abundance, gratitude, and ambition. 

We have much to be grateful for.  Almost everyone who reads this is rich.  We sometimes forget that, and mostly take it for granted.  We have warm homes, clothes on our backs, food on the table, microwave ovens and cell phones. We have cars, which are frequently parked on the street because our garages are full of our “stuff.”

And still we worry about lack and shortage. We worry about the lack of money, or an energy shortage. We worry whether we’ll have enough to retire or put our kids through college.

So it is a vital question: Do we live in a world of abundance, or a world of lack? It’s a very personal decision, based on your own perspective. I can’t give you the answer, but I’m convinced how you answer that question does make a difference. It changes you attitude, your self-image, and your view of the world around you. Personally, I see a world of abundance, but that’s just me.

I see a world of abundant opportunity and energy, a world over-flowing with light and freedom, with creativity, and chances to make a difference.  How about you?

Second, many have noted that the “attitude of gratitude” opens doors and empowers us.  If we live with fear or jealousy, an attitude of lack or anxiety, everything we do is inhibited and hesitant.  Gratitude gives courage. It fosters optimism, and reduces the sense of risk.   In a world in which we strive and fight for every scrap, we dare not take risks or act boldly, for fear of losing what little we have.

But in a world of abundance and with an attitude of gratitude, we are free.  We can strive boldly, we can take wild, crazy risks, and enjoy the ride.  Which, I suspect, is the source and definition of ambition. 

Many have achieved great things with an unhealthy attitude of “getting all you can” or “doing unto others before they do unto you,” but their success seldom lasts.  That attitude of fear and greed and competing for scarce and fleeting success, carries within itself the seeds of its own downfall.

True ambition is the desire to build, to create, to respond eagerly to the riches around us and make things better for as many people, in as many ways, as we can.

This Thanksgiving, notice the abundance around us.  Be grateful!  And out of abundance and gratitude, renew your commitment to create something special, something lasting, something that will benefit all of humankind.

by Phil Humbert

Categories: Attitude, Leadership, Personal development.

Where Are You Going in Life?

November 11, 2012

by Phil Humbert 

This week, along with doing some good work and enjoying good times with family, I’ve been surrounding myself with history. There’s some amazing history in the old mines and ranches around us in Colorado, and I’ve been sampling moments of the History Channel’s series on the industrialists who built the railroads, steel mills, and inventions of the 19th century. It’s wonderful material and when I get a chance, I’m eager to watch the entire series on DVD.

 I’ve also been reading Conrad Black’s extraordinary biography of Franklin Roosevelt. The thing is massive (over 1300 pages!) but so well written it goes fast and gives a rich picture of this incredible man.

Obviously, there are many things to learn from FDR, but what stands out for me is that he knew where he was going in life.

So many of us never figure that out. Even when he didn’t have a clue how to solve the challenges of the Great Depression, he never doubted his long-term direction in life. When polio robbed him of his health and threatened his life, he never doubted. He simply renewed his determination to hold high office and live the life he wanted. Are you as clear about your goals?

What is the “big idea” in your life? What’s the ultimate destination for you? Whether you call it your purpose or mission, or refer to it as your goal or use some other label, I’m convinced that knowing what we truly want in life is essential. Without a vision, a “north star” or major dream, I think we waste too much time wandering around. We feel “lost” or confused. We try things but eventually our enthusiasm wanes and we end up “starting over.”

That was not a problem for President Roosevelt. Obviously he had flaws and it wouldn’t surprise me if as many of our readers condemn him as admire him. We can disagree over his politics, his values, his behavior and so forth.

But we can still learn from his sense of purpose.

His life took many detours, most notably because of his polio. He was reluctant to run for Governor of New York in 1928, and his personal finances and his family life were often a mess, but through it all he kept his eyes on the prize. He aimed to become President because he saw it as his destiny. He worked for it and he never flinched.

What is the theme and major challenge of your life? What is your destiny?

Many of us say we “don’t know” but I think, deep inside, most of us do know. What we lack is not the “knowing” but the commitment and a strategy for getting there. Without a sense of “how to do it” we are easily discouraged. We get lost or distracted by the stresses of daily life.

Don’t let that happen!

You have a purpose. Dig deep to discover (or recover) your dream and find ways to move in the direction of your most important priorities. The path is unlikely to be straight or easy, but it’s critical that you keep going.

In life, we get pretty much what we think about all day long. In the long run, we get what we expect; we end up where we are headed. In our daily lives, it’s critical that we are clear about our direction and that we keep going.

Surround yourself with people and books and activities and events that move you toward your ultimate goals. You probably won’t get there in a day, or even in a year, but it’s essential that you keep going. But, “Where are you going in life?” really is a vital question. Whatever your ultimate destination, think about it all day, every day, until one day you may wake up to find that you’ve arrived.

Categories: Attitude, Leadership, Personal development.