Tough times don’t last. Tough people do. That has been my mantra for 25 years and has been a great motivator on difficult days. However, these past 18 months have been especially tough, and I started losing my toughness and resilience. I was at a point earlier this year where I was ready to hang it up and move on. I just wanted to run away and sleep for a year. I no longer believed I was tough enough to last.
Then, I had a conversation with my husband, and though I had heard these words from him before, I heard them differently this time: Many people are going through tough times, and we get spoiled and entitled and forget what are truly tough times.
My husband suggested taking a moment to reflect on what we do have. We have warm showers, a roof over our head and food in our stomachs. We are blessed to have many amazing friends and work colleagues, not to mention families that we love to be around. Those things don’t keep tough times from happening, but they help us find the lesson in our tough times. They also help us embrace and take on those tough times head-on. Sometimes, we need others to help remind us how tough we are.
After that conversation, I took some time to really reflect. What has given me joy these past months? What kept me tough? It forced me to look beyond all the emails, projects and sponsorship conversations. I had to forget all the turmoil and political posturing that is killing our country right now. I had to go beyond the big stuff and reflect on the little things that kept me going. What made me smile this year?
Do you know what made me smile? It was a lot of little things. It was the person who thanked me for my hand in boosting their career. Of course, I deflected and said it was all them, but they reminded me that my belief and endorsement mattered and made a difference. It was the chance to help fund someone’s dream and watch it come to fruition. It was hearing a compliment on a day where nothing seemed to be going right. It was that evening my husband cooked me dinner because he loves me and knew I needed that yummy comfort food.
I challenge each of you to reflect on the joyful moments you had this past year. Think of the little things that brought light to a dark day. I suspect many of them were moments when someone gave you a little encouragement. When someone tells you how amazing you are at your job or thanks you for your help so they could be amazing at their job. It really is the little things. I have cried after getting an email or a card in the mail from someone sharing their appreciation for something I did to help. Usually, it was nothing major, but how powerful is it to hear those words on a day where you questioned why you keep doing this.
Why bother? We bother because we all make a difference. We matter, and every little deed matters. Take time to notice what is going on around you. Thank those in your lives who help you. Show gratitude when someone makes a special effort. Do you think your job and day-to-day are hard? So does just about everyone, so it is no longer ok to excuse bad behavior because someone was having a tough day.
I follow an amazing newsletter on LinkedIn called, “The Gratitude Journal,” and it is one more thing that reminds me to reflect on what is important. The most recent issue was titled, “The Gratitude Stone.” You can check it out here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/gratitude-stone-chester-elton/
Chester Elton writes about rituals, and one ritual that he recently started doing was carrying around some small stones with the word gratitude engraved on them. Chester suggests keeping a few in your pocket or at your desk to remind you of what you are grateful for. He carries them around when he travels to remind him to look for someone who is doing something worthwhile that is not commonly recognized. He stops and thanks them for their service and may even give them a Gratitude Stone so they have a reminder that what they do doesn’t go unnoticed and they matter.
I bought 100 Gratitude Stones and am looking forward to sharing them as gifts during this holiday season and beyond. Suddenly, I am a little tougher. I want to thank those of you reading this message for your influence and kind words over the years. You keep me tough. Thank you, ACW, for your influence and guidance through your many programs and events.
I might have to change my mantra up a little. Maybe I should change it to, “Tough times don’t last. Grateful people do!”
Angela Hefner is a Director of Supplier Management at Telarus and just celebrated her 10-year work anniversary. She is married with a dog and two cats and has a special affinity for hats and anything that sparkles. You will find her cooking and entertaining on the weekends when she is not out camping and exploring or at a music or arts festival.