2018 was a fascinating year for me. I’ve been working on my heart – or more appropriately the Trinity has been – for 12 years now. In 2018 some real truths seemed to find good soil and put down deep roots.
It started on January 20th when I was called into the executive board room by my boss at my company. There I met the new Chief Human Resource Officer for the first time as I was fired from my job. A little background here: I had started almost exactly 6 years earlier as the General Manager of one of the struggling sites of this big company. After turning it around, I was moved on to another site (in Memphis, TN – while living in Michigan with my wife and three daughters!) As we improved that site, I had a site in metro Detroit added to my responsibilities. Finally, I volunteered to take on the second largest site in the company – by far the worst performing site – outside of Lansing (over an hour drive each way from my house). That was in May of 2017. By November we had returned the site to the expected level of performance and profitability – a feat which we repeated in December.
To say it was a surprise would be an understatement. And here’s the beautiful thing: I stayed present during the entire episode. I noticed my heart and what I was feeling. I noticed the discomfort of both my boss and the CHRO. I was able to be curious about what I was feeling and why. I was able to understand in the moment that I was okay. That this decision, while surprising and very confusing, was not a judgement about who I am at my core (a beloved son of God) or even about my performance. This was about a company going in a different direction with it’s new CEO. I was also able to be honest with myself that in the future I could do a better job paying attention to executive leadership’s way of doing things. Not for the purpose of necessarily doing things differently, but because being surprised by the termination means I wasn’t tuned into what was really going on at that level. I felt no guilt nor shame about it – I was simply able to be curious about what I could do differently next time to improve.
Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash
What followed (aside from a furious wife) was an amazing period of freedom. I spent the next six months launching my own executive leadership coaching business and being present and supportive of my family in ways I had never been available for before. As I reflected I could see the firing as a real rescue for my heart. Even though I ended up going back into being employed by someone else in late summer (a job I am really excited about), I remain eternally grateful for the change – and all the goodness for my heart that came from it.
As I reflected on 2018 on New Year’s Eve, and I asked the Trinity what the theme had been for the year – I immediately, and clearly heard: Gratitude. In worldly terms, what an odd word for the year with all that happened. And yet my heart leapt at hearing the word – it was so true! I was so grateful for the rescue, for the freedom, for the time with my family, for the soul searching and healing I was afforded, for the additional times in deep conversations with friends, for the additional time to work more deeply on causes I am passionate about, and for being able to remain present and curious – even in the toughest of circumstances. Oh yes, 2018 had so much to be grateful for – and I was present to it, and grateful for it in the moment, so much of the time.
Photo by Mikesh Kaos on Unsplash
Right on the heels of hearing “2018 was the year of gratitude” I heard “and 2019 is the year of joy!” I am so excited to see what 2019 brings. Having read Ann Voskamp’s book “One Thousand Gifts” I am very aware of the relationship between gratitude and joy. I remain present to the fact that joy doesn’t come to us from the outside – it bursts forth from the inside. When I choose to stay present and aware in all moments, I get to be grateful for those moments while I am in them! And that gratitude brings joy to my heart. So my joy is my choice, not something I might luck into.