The core belief of this blog is that life is a gift, that your time is a precious asset and that you therefore ought to be a purposeful steward of such a scarce and valuable resource. That is why I push myself toward excellence. That is why I want to push you toward excellence.
That is why I hunger to grow, to rise to whatever version of greatness is available to me. In a word: stewardship.
Tantamount to true stewardship is gratitude along the journey—not just once you arrive at the destination, but at many points along the way. If my goal is to make $1 million, surely I can find it in me to enjoy myself when I’m at the $250,000 benchmark (or long before then).
Two days ago, one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the game of football hung up his cleats. Peyton Manning has a laundry list of records and accomplishments attached to his name.
During what I thought was an excellent retirement speech, he said this:
“Our children are small now, but as they grow up, we’re going to teach them to enjoy the little things in life because one day they will look back and discover that those really were the big things.”
He went on to list things like shaking Tom Brady’s hand after a game, or eating at St. Elmo’s after a win. He listed the names of specific opponents, and mentioned deconstructing games over the phone with his dad.
So I thought to myself, I wonder if he took notice of those events at the time that they were happening. I wonder if he knew he’d miss those small things.
And then, of course, I thought of my own life.
What are the small things that I encounter daily that I’ll miss? What are the small things that I’m not noticing? What is happening now that I would mention in my retirement speech?
And so I pose the question to you: What are the small things that you can enjoy today? What happens in your life now, that you would list in a victorious speech in ten years?
I know what some of mine are.
My son Oliver walking bleary-eyed and bed-headed into the dining room at 6am on the dot each morning, and smiling his sweet smile. Archie riding his little blue balance bike around the house, or hiding in the cupboards with the pots and pans.
That’s the tip of the iceberg. The point is, there are great thing happening—valuable memories being made—every single day, and it’s foolishness to wait until you’ve reach some destination to begin to appreciate them.
Mindset is the basis of who you become and what you’re able to accomplish. That mindset must include gratitude, and it must include mindfulness. Reaching toward and accomplishing lofty goals down the line is worthless if you refuse to appreciate the very life you’re attempting to improve.
In that spirit, I am daily attempting to cultivate a spirit of gratitude, to notice what I have, in each moment, to be thankful for, to appreciate, to enjoy. Even when the moment isn’t perfect.
I heard it described this way recently, on a podcast:
Think about where you are today. Think about how you feel and what is going on in your life.
Now imagine that in 5 days, you are facing a tragedy—a loved one dies, you’re diagnosed with a terminal illness, your homes burns down. Suddenly, you would give anything to go back to today, troubles and all.
It is easy and common to focus on the frustrations of the day at the expense of the enjoyment of that which is good. The negatives stay top of mind; the blessings become the background, blurry and out of focus.
Shift your thinking—shift your awareness—and bring the many good things to the front; focus your view on the richness that you already enjoy. You’ll find that it empowers you to reach higher and take greater leaps toward your grand and worthy goals.
Take the time to notice the little things that are happening today, that you’ll want to mention in your retirement speech.