What is Thanksgiveness? It is a word I made up. This week we start a season of Thanksgiving that ends on New Year's Day. Let me share a secret to make this Thanksgiving the start of your best leadership years and the start of more opportunities for joy in your life and at work.
Thanksgiveness = Thanksgiving + Forgiveness. The reason for this new word is the two decisions are integrated. It may surprise you, but in typical servant leadership style the last comes first. Before we can experience true thankfulness we must accept forgiveness so deeply that we can forgive. This can be difficult because in many ways forgiveness is a much more complicated experience than thankfulness. It relates to our ego, wounds in life, spiritual beliefs, attitude, and habits.
Leaders who are thankful, and can express sincere gratitude to others, leave a much more powerful legacy than other managers. Yet one major hurdle for leaders is that if you truly want to experience the fullness of Thanksgiving every day, then you must comprehend the complications of forgiveness in your own life and overcome its challenges.
Here are three steps for any business owner to begin this journey.
1. Time is NOT the Issue
There is a well-known story of a man who thousands of years ago owed a king what would today be about $6 billion. Wikipedia concludes this was equal to about 200,000 years’ wages for the man. The king pronounced a harsh judgment that was consistent with the law. What happened next is very interesting...
The man who owed the large sum of money fell down and knelt before the king, saying, “Lord, have patience with me, and I will repay you all!” The king took compassion on the man and did the opposite of what was expected and fair: The king forgave him the entire debt.
Paul Kingsman, Olympic medalist and coach to financial advisors pointed out to me recently that the man who owed the enormous sum of money failed to comprehend that he would never be able to repay. The amount was too large. He thought he just needed more time! Time was not the issue.
How often do you, as MSP business owners, get stuck in a cycle of postponing change by making an excuse? “If we just give this poor performing employee more time to improve…” or “We have to continue this broken process because we have to spend our time somewhere else…” or some other excuse where we thought things would get better DOING THINGS THE SAME WAY (like offering break/fix services, for instance) if we just had more time?
If we continue that line of thinking then it is reasonable to conclude the man had thought for years that if he just kept doing things the way he was doing them, he would increase his profits and start to repay the debt. Unfortunately he was just proving Einstein's Theory of Insanity and the debt grew.
How many leaders or managers do you know that postpone improving their leadership skills and fully engaging their people? What about those who delay significant changes to the way they are selling, servicing, and spending to improve profitability?
They continue to postpone any serious action in these areas for years, and often decades. How about you, and can your managed IT services business afford it?
2. Accept Forgiveness
Another interesting aspect of this story is the area of self forgiveness. Many people believe that you first have to forgive yourself before you can forgive others. I suggest that is not true. I suggest rather that you have to be forgiven and accept the forgiveness from another or many others before you can forgive others.
In this story there was no way the man was ever going to be able to repay the debt. He did not understand this, so he asked for more time. The wise king realized the debt would never be repaid. For an unknown reason, and one that was potentially unfair to others who had been disciplined for lesser debts, the king forgave the man.
It is interesting to note the forgiven man did NOT accept the forgiveness. Instead, after he was freed he assaulted someone who owed him a small fraction of the amount the debtor owed the king. Why? One reason could be the debtor did not feel forgiven/accept the forgiveness. If he had accepted the king's forgiveness then the debtor would have been thankful and extended that grace to others. Instead, he remained the “Unforgiving Debtor.”
Think about it: Have you ever been a boss or had a manager who seemed to hold you to a higher standard than their behavior? Could it be you or they did not feel “good enough” or forgiven, and this partially motivated their judgment of your efforts? Could it be a key reason you or they rarely expressed sincere gratitude to others is because there was a feeling you always had to do more to be accepted yourself/themselves?
3. Pursue Thanksgiveness
Here are some quick aspects of forgiveness worthy of your consideration.
Forgiveness is NOT:
- excusing or validating someone’s behavior
- a feeling, but rather a decision to move beyond something we perceive to be wrong
- forgetting, but changing how we remember
Forgiveness is instead:
- letting go of the power a person or situation has on our heart
- radical and illogical from some perspectives, yet incredibly healthy
- a slow and steady process that takes time and habits to reinforce
Food for Thought (before We Eat Lots of Food)
We get so wrapped-up in proving we are “good enough” that too often we allow ourselves to be hurt, and self-pity encourages the wounds to fester. This blinds leaders from achieving some of the greatest good in our lives.
Ask for forgiveness where appropriate and leave the burden of failure or misunderstanding in that place. Accept the forgiveness from others so you can be released to live a leader’s life of thanksgiving.
3 Quick Leadership Failures often Related to Not Accepting Forgiveness from Others:
These common mistakes STOP LEADERS FROM BEING THEIR BEST. How well do you do in each of these areas?
Leaders fail to:
- Improve their systems to hire, manage, develop, and retain their employees in a consistently positive, productive, focused work environment
- Engage each employee individually in work that is personally fulfilling to them; and
- Value team members for their contributions, but are quick to point out their mistakes
Every day is Thanksgiving. This is just a season that emphasizes it. Why not accept forgiveness, extend forgiveness, and experience the deep joy of thanksgiving in your managed services work environment?
Have you ever worked for a boss who was both a good leader and effectively, consistently communicated her/his gratitude for your contributions? If your answer is “no,” then you are still looking for that boss or partner. If your answer is “yes,” then you loved working for/with that person, right? If your answer is “I want to be that boss,” then there is no better time than now to make a change. Email me if I can be a sounding board for you, and check out my other blog posts: What The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Can Teach MSPs about Leadership and Are You a Minion or a Leader? Advice for the MSP Business Owner
Thanksgiveness transforms workplaces and lives.
Happy Thanksgiveness! Every day.
Is too much management and not enough leadership one of your pitfalls?