I read a lot of self improvement, leadership, and coaching type literature. As someone who spent years in professional ministry as well as coaching executives I have spent thousands of man-hours coaching people on how to keep their head in the game.
There is a ton of good stuff out there and there are also kilotons of "meh." But of all the things that seem to "work" in getting keeping people's heads back in the game, mine especially, is a simple little thing called gratitude.
Gratitude or "thankfulness" has seemed to have arisen to the top in my life over and over again. Maybe that is because gratitude automatically forces us to consider what we have, and not what "we have not!"
Thankfulness in the Little Things
One thing I do every morning is a little meditation. This is not the "omani pe, me hom" stuff. It is just centering my mind, often with a little bit a prayer mixed in. There was a beautiful sunrise out my living room window this morning. I took a minute to thank God for that. That sparked thanking God for being alive today, having an credible wife of almost 27 years, six young men to our credit ranging from 11–26 years of age, and a whole bunch more.
Being thankful for the little things and the basic things will also serve you very well when you are very rich in worldly things. It will keep you grounded and your priorities in place. It works whether you have a lot, or a little.
The "Weakness" of Outward Success
People who have financial, business, and career success typically just carry themselves with more confidence. But that can be a false confidence when it is based on that success.
Your self worth is neither increased or decreased by the goods, renown, and success you have. You are a valuable, worthy, and amazing person regardless.
I spent some time coaching C-level executives in job transition. The single biggest pchallenge these highly successful leaders faced was being defining themselves by their current state. Many of them suffered severe depression and disillusionment by the mere loss of an income and a title. Their savior was simply finding another title with a big paycheck that they thought would make them "valuable again." If we put our self worth in the wrong things, it actually weakens us as a leader.
Leaning on Egypt
There is a great verse in the Old Testament book of Isaiah that illustrates this. God told Israel not to trust in what could not be trusted. In the political intrigue of 7th and 8th century Palestine, Egypt was an easy option to look to for help. But it always came at a cost:
Behold, you are trusting in Egypt, that broken reed of a staff, which will pierce the hand of any man who leans on it. Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him. (Isaiah 36:6)
Houston We Have a Problem
There is a great scene in the movie Apollo 13, the movie which tells the true story of how those Apollo 13 astronauts almost did not make it home. In this scene, a NASA member gathers a bunch of experts in a room and dumps a bunch of junk on the table. Then he says something like, this is the stuff they have, and so this is what we have to work with to save their lives!
Starting with What you Have
That is the power of Thankfulness and Gratitude; it makes you take stock in what you have, not what you don't have. This gives you a foundation to work from. You can't use or leverage what you don't have. But you can leverage what you do have. And that is the perfect place to start. Our biggest problem is underestimating the resources we have; we will always underestimate them when we are not thankful for them.
The Mindset Boost
But there is more—much more. Our ability to leverage what we have is multiplied by a thankful "can do" attitude. Embracing the blessings you have, and enthusiastically putting them to work for you like you are the luckiest person on earth is a force multiplier for success.