Randy Wolken, President & CEO

During this week of Thanksgiving, it’s a good time to remember to be grateful. But truthfully, we need to do this more than once a year. It needs to be a daily occurrence for us all, especially leaders. Without it, we will become hyper-focused only on what is wrong with our world and not what is right.

Leaders can easily fall into the trap of identifying the performance gaps that exist in our organizations. We can also spot missing gaps when it comes to our team members and how they are doing. We can put plans together to address all of these deficits. However, we will too often miss what is right with our organizations and our people. And, we can only build on strengths. A gratefulness approach makes us infinitely better as leaders. It helps us see opportunities when we might otherwise only see gaps.

Have you ever fallen into the trap of only seeing what is wrong? It is so easy to do. Turn on the news, listen to your team at a staff meeting, visit a customer, and visit the local coffee shop. What do you hear? I often hear how so much is broken and wrong. Is the world really that bad? No, it is not. I am not trying to diminish what is not going well in our world today. However, the facts point to a wealthy, healthier, and wiser world than we had just 50 years ago. The numbers are quite impressive when you step back and look at them.

According to Factfullness by Hans Rosling, the world today is much different than most of us think. Looking at the latest data from the United Nations, we can understand that we live in a much more positive world than what we see in news reports. Consider these facts:

  • The average life expectancy in the world is 72 years
  • 90% of all girls and 92% of all boys attend school worldwide
  • 88% of the world gets its water from a protected water source
  • 86% of the world has basic literacy skills
  • 88% of the world is immunized – and smallpox has been eradicated
  • The majority of the people in the world live “in the middle” and have the same standard of living as we did in the United States in the 1950s
  • 65% of the world has a mobile phone
  • 85% of the world has access to electricity
  • 48% of the world has access to the internet – and this number is growing fast

I try to be a realist about my place of work and the world around me. I know so much change will need to happen to help sustain our member companies and to make our world a better place. I also know that I am so grateful for all those I love so dearly, the life I have, and the opportunities before me. This day, and every day, I make it a habit to spend a few minutes reflecting on my blessings. When I do, it overwhelms me with gratefulness. It helps me have a better day. It’s worth a try.