I have a close friend, a colleague, within my organization who has a story to tell. Like many of us do. His “origin story” involves growing up half the time in a Texas border town, and the other half of his time in its Mexican counterpart, and the dangers and violence that surrounded living there.
And I remember thinking that that kind of childhood and upbringing could go one of two ways.
The first is, that world can lead to a life of hopelessness, deep despair, frustration, bitterness, anger, and even violence. It consumes you if you can’t find a way to get out before it gets dark.
But the second is as unexpected as it is incredible. This very same situation that can swallow you whole can instead lead to an irrepressible desire to experience, share, and shape a hope with the world around you. A situation that could “kill” one spirit instead awakens another. And that’s what happened with my friend. Instead of living a life of bitterness and anger, he exudes joy, encouragement, industriousness, and ethics in all he does. He is a gravitational pull of hope.
We at CFO have a long-time writer, Bob Violino. His expertise, reflected in nearly 20 years of bylines for this august publication, sits in the nexus between business strategy and technology, something finance chiefs must increasingly be experts in amid the sea change in 2023 and beyond.
But Bob also shared with me a side project he started this past summer, a personal blog titled “Embracing Gratitude.” At first glance, it is a site that is an expression of rays of sunshine we experience through life. But if you follow his posts in reverse or start from the beginning, he writes eloquently and openly about the challenges he has faced in the past year and their impact on how he views the world. I won’t spoil it for you, but one suggestion I offer is to guard against the instinct that he may be a naturally effusive “Pollyanna.”
Even for the most optimistic among us, there are times in life, and events that unfold, when we feel like a poorly made building of Legos, getting taken apart brick by brick.
But there is a perspective, one Bob suggests is not solely aspirational but entirely practical, that can effectively fight against what has been expressed as “the long, dark night of the soul.” Practicing gratitude, reflecting on thanksgiving, and acknowledging it to others is a light that pierces the darkness.
As it has been said, the presence and practice of gratitude is no guarantee of the absence of sadness or even depression, but the “dark night of the soul always gives way to the brightness of the noonday light.” And you might even find that you discover gratitude, not in spite of your most challenging situations, but because of them.
Practicing gratitude and thanksgiving is not only a shield. It is also a spear.
I and the CFO team are incredibly thankful for you all, our readers. And we hope your week, whether you celebrate the American holiday of Thanksgiving or not, is filled with the opportunity to find and express this gratitude in even the smallest things.