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This Thanksgiving week I am taking extra time to be more grateful for what I have in my life and career. I am also working on improving positivity and being conscious of any type of cynical attitude or approach I may have. Last week I became more aware of cynicism and its negative effects through reading a post called The Scourge of Cynicism in Michael Hyat’s Blog, Leading With a Purpose. He begins the blog with, “It (cynicism) is like cancer to the human soul. It is especially deadly when it affects an organization.” Hyatt goes on to define cynic and cynical as well as pointing out three symptoms of being infected – 1) Distrust of others’ motives, 2) Commenting negatively about others, and 3) Pessimism about the future. You can read the full blog post here http://michaelhyatt.com/2007/04/the-scourge-of-cynicism.html.
Hyat says we all have some cynic in us. We need to be conscious of it and also help others who exhibit the symptoms. After reading his post and heading into this week focused on giving thanks, I determined to evaluate any of my behaviors that may be symptomatic and then set the example for others. My focus areas lie in the last two symptoms – being more positive about others, and the future. I encourage you to take time to evaluate any areas of cynicism in your life and then spend time during the next couple of days being conscious of your behaviors. Do you engage in negative conversations about others? Do you just stand by when someone else speaks negatively of another person? Do you believe in the good of people and their motives? When you talk to others about the future, is it mostly positive or negative? Then, take a couple of days to listen to other people. You will likely notice some cynicism. Hopefully it will be less apparent this week, so maybe the listening should begin next week. It’s good to perform this exercise because it heightens your awareness. As a leader, you can make a difference by first setting the example, and then later coaching others. But remember, you can’t ask others to do something you will not do yourself.
Finally, be appreciative each day. Every day my alma mater, Notre Dame, sends me a motivational tip. Recently, the tip suggested taking time at the end of each day to write 10 things for which I am thankful. The tip went on to contend that by doing this, I would naturally become more positive and grateful for all that I have in my life and career.
Here is my list for today and Thanksgiving. Since this is a work blog, I am gearing this somewhat towards work related thoughts.
1. My family – spouse and 4 children as well as extended family.
2. The entire Cameron-Brooks team. They might as well be up there with family since I spend so much time with them.
3. Cameron-Brooks client companies who value the Junior Military Officer (JMO) candidate, Cameron-Brooks and our services.
4. The wonderful and talented JMO candidates who partner with Cameron-Brooks and put their trust and faith in our services and team.
5. For the men and women who have served, and those who serve today in our Armed Forces defending our freedom and democracy. Remember, “Freedom is not free.”
6. For spouses who put their careers and lives on hold while their military spouses deploy, and provide outstanding support for their family and other military families.
7. The opportunity to work in a career where I truly enjoy my work and see the value of what I contribute.
8. The ability and desire to learn.
9. Friends, mentors and co-workers who genuinely care about my career and provide me with counsel and guidance.
10. Short work week this week, and a four-day weekend coming up!
Leaders are optimists. Be aware of cynicism, find time to be thankful, and have a Happy Thanksgiving.