“Be present in all things and thankful for all things.”
– Maya Angelou
Gratitude is the quality of feeling grateful or thankful. Over the past two decades, research has proven that being intentional about gratitude increases optimism, reduces physical ailments, lowers anxiety and depression, improves sleep, influences generosity, increases general happiness, and can improve feelings of belonging and community! I think we can agree that practicing gratitude produces a variety of positive outcomes.
Although giving thanks is important every day of the year, in the United States we have celebrated Thanksgiving since 1789. As we focus hearts and minds towards this holiday and all that we are grateful for, let us remember those people who have influenced us and changed the trajectory of our lives by their example and by their leadership. Most assuredly, these people understand what is important to them and live their lives in alignment with their values.
One such person who touched many lives by her presence was Charlene Spence. Charlene worked for Luck Companies where her warmth, wisdom and willingness to be fully present made others feel valued. Her leadership skills, knowledge, competence and care for others made her someone we could go to for support. As one person shared, “Charlene modeled living a values centric life, one of unwavering faith and service to others.” Charlene passed away unexpectedly last week, leaving those of us who knew her heartbroken and overwhelmed with grief. Yet as we paused to make sense of this devastating loss, we also took comfort in the incredible legacy Charlene left.
Charlene’s leadership was unshakable. Her leadership modeled selflessness, inclusiveness, and high commitment to whatever she put her hand and heart to. She made others feel seen, understood and welcome. She desired to bring people together and bring down barriers; her enthusiasm for life, her joy and her optimism were contagious. She had a vision for a better world and wanted to be a part of moving in that direction — not dwelling on the past, but allowing it to inform the present and transform the future.
Although someone else may fill her role, no one will ever replace the unique Charlene Spence. Her spirit will continue to influence all of those whose lives she touched – and for that we are forever grateful. What a legacy!
It’s easy to take things for granted and even easier to take people for granted, but one of the most important things we have in life is our relationships with others. Let this Thanksgiving serve as a gentle reminder to think about your own legacy and how it will impact the people in your life.
Some questions to ponder:
- Who are those people who make your day better, influence with a positive, optimistic attitude, and lead with great people skills?
- Who inspires, encourages, and challenges you to be the best you can be? Who are you grateful for?
Some actions to consider:
- During Thanksgiving week, take 10 minutes to write a thank you note to someone who you appreciate.
- How else might you brighten someone’s day to affirm the positive impact they are having in the world?