Which are you: ‘lucky’, ‘fortunate’ or ‘grateful’?
Over the three decades I’ve worked with teams to enhance customer service, I’ve discovered that those employees who are the most popular with customers and co-workers, are not those who have lived so-called charmed lives. It’s not that their life journey has been without significant losses. It’s that they don’t let the events of life define their outlook on life.
It’s not about waking up and feeling wonderful about our circumstances. Heavens, I don’t know anyone who has lived beyond 40 who hasn’t suffered through a significant loss or tragedy. Instead, as my professional speaking colleague and friend Darci Lang shares in her “Focus on the 90%” messages, it’s more about appreciating the positive aspects of life. Easier said than done, right? Actually, it may be as easy as choosing different words to describe your life situation.
For example, what do each of these three words mean to you:
Lucky – Many of life’s triumphs and tragedies may indeed be attributed to good or bad luck: being born into wealth or poverty, natural disasters, disease and genetics, accidents… all impact our lives. Yet we all know of people who have managed to educate and work themselves out of poverty, change their geography, and taken steps to safeguard their health. Yes, we can thank or blame ‘luck’ for our situation, but luck is rarely the only factor.
Fortunate – You recognize that luck has played a significant role in your life. But you also give yourself credit (if only in your own mind) for making plans, having the gumption, taking steps and doing the work to overcome obstacles and improve your circumstances. Thinking of yourself and others as being ‘fortunate’ is to also recognize the value of resilience and perseverance. That mindset puts you in a stronger position to face future challenges.
Grateful – When tragedy strikes, we may experience the five classic stages of loss: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance – natural human emotions. Sometimes we may wallow in this darkness. Beyond considering getting medical assistance and counselling, we can also tap into the restorative power of gratitude. In even the most dire of circumstances there are aspects of life for which we can be thankful. If we choose to remind ourselves about them.
Here’s what I’ve learned. Team members who brighten the day for customers and co-workers are not necessarily those who have been lucky in life. Instead, they consciously remind themselves about the many little gifts of day to day living for which they are grateful. That gratitude gives them the strength and motivation to keep moving forward. And that progress creates positive results for which they consider themselves to be fortunate. In other words, the more grateful you feel, the more fortunate you’ll become.
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