My intention is not to be a Pollyanna. Let’s face it, as M. Scott Peck says, “Life is hard”. However, I believe that there are practical ways that we can cultivate a heart of gratitude as well as elevate others in our path even when life is not perfect.

Last July, our family moved to what I lovingly refer to as the country. Now some people would beg to differ with me, since we can get to a major mall within 20 minutes. But for me and what we have been used to for the past 32 years, it is the country. We have upgraded from a third of an acre lot to over 32 acres with a little fishing pond. Anticipating our move to the country, we decided that we would embark on our first adventure with farm animals and buy some chicks during the spring before our move. We purchased sixteen in total (15 hens and one rooster) as experts recommend one rooster per 14-16 hens. Chicks must be kept under heat lamps and cannot be exposed to the elements for the first few months of their life so consequently we had to keep them in our Chesterfield garage until we moved. What we soon learned as the chicks began to grow was that we didn’t just have just one rooster – we had FIVE. This is not an issue when they are young but as they get older, they can become mean and aggressive to one another as well as the hens. Too many roosters in the coop is never a great thing. Here is a lesson in and of itself that we can explore later.

One day last summer, Paige and I witnessed this unpleasant reality and decided that it was time to say goodbye to four of the roosters. Every Saturday from 8 am to 1 pm, there is a farmer’s market in Troy, MO about thirty minutes from our home where farmers can bring their livestock, vegetables, honey and other wares to sell. So, we decided that we would gather our roosters and go participate in the farmer’s market. Gathering the roosters was a much larger feat than we had anticipated. It took all of us working together to get them into the cage. On the way there, Greg jokingly said, “We are not bringing these roosters back home, so I really hope that someone wants them or we will be stopping at a field somewhere along the way and letting them enjoy some free range.”

By the time, we arrived it was 12:15 p.m. (Remember it closes at 1 and some people had been there since 8 just waiting for some activity). We pulled up in our Yukon, opened the trunk and within one minute a lady approached us and wanted our roosters. Not really knowing the process, I went to the lady in charge and asked what we needed to do. She said that we needed to fill out some paperwork, pay our five dollars to participate but really, she advised me that they were close to shutting down and so maybe I didn’t want to do that. I told her that we already had a buyer for our roosters which flabbergasted her. We had sold our roosters in under two minutes.

I walked away from there grateful for our “win” of the day.

Our son Jordan needed someone to take him to Troy, MO to drop off his truck at a diesel shop for repair. I didn’t have any early morning meetings so I was the best option. On the way back in the car, we had one of those “deeper waters” conversations that you get every so often with your adult children. Now he still didn’t come around to seeing things my way, but I am confident that a few seeds were planted that morning. Again, I was thankful for the “win”. My heart was filled with gratitude.

Technology Partners was responsible for facilitating the introduction of the HMG CIO Summit to St. Louis four years ago. Last year for the summit, I had been trying to secure the COO from MO as a keynote speaker for the event. He headed up the Governor’s Innovation Task Force and so it struck me that the IT C-suite would love to hear his thoughts and the results of the three-month study. I was in a MO Innovation Council meeting with him on a Monday afternoon and after the meeting he informed me that I had been convincing enough and he would agree to be a keynote at the summit on Oct 4th. I gave him a huge bear hug and “offered thanks” for yet another “win” Monday afternoon. My heart was filled with gratitude.

My point in talking about the “wins” is not to be braggadocios about how wonderful my life is and how I am “winning” in life, but rather to point out that it is all about perspective. We can choose to look for the “wins” whether that is being able to rectify a “rooster problem”, having a deep-water conversation with a child or securing an awesome keynote speaker or we can be on auto-pilot and let them pass us by without another thought. When we recognize and celebrate the “wins” of life, our hearts are filled gratitude.

Here is where the real test of character comes in – are we willing to take the time and energy to help create “wins” for others? I believe if we would, there would be a lot more gratefulness and consequently joyful people in the world.

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