3 Ways to Recognize the Gifts to Be Found in Turmoil

Young Kid Painting Abstract On White WallIn times of turmoil, we may forget that we are surrounded by blessings. Even adversity can bring a gift when we look through the lens of gratitude.

An avid “yachtee,” my 90-year-old dad recently cut himself while on his boat, which resulted in a four-day stay in the hospital. Now I’m on deck as his main caregiver. Admittedly, it can be exhausting to look after an elderly parent, run two households and—oh yes—work full-time.

The gift in all of this? I’m hearing stories from Dad about his life experiences that I never would have heard if we hadn’t spent this time together. These stories are not only about the person he is and the life he’s led—they are also life lessons that are giving me insight into who I am and how I arrived at this point in my life. Being a caregiver has upended my life in unexpected ways that sometimes feel like total chaos, and yet I wouldn’t trade Dad’s stories for anything.

Leaders, too, occasionally may feel as if they are living in turmoil. I work for a wonderful woman who recently referred to this concept as “being over her skis”—a term you may recognize as feeling a bit out of control on a downhill slope, with no way to brake. An executive client who works for a US federal agency expressed the feeling as an “intensity of anticipated change.”

So where are the gifts in these situations? And how do we recognize them for what they are? Here are 3 questions you can ask yourself that may lend a little clarity:

  1. If I were in control, how would I choose to feel or think in this situation?
  2. What environment do I want to create for others, and how do I do so?
  3. What can I learn from this situation and how can I apply that learning?

While we may not be in control of a particular circumstance, we can be in control of our emotions. Notice what you are feeling and what messages you are telling yourself. If necessary, make a conscious shift to a more productive and positive outlook.

Know that as a leader, people look to you as a barometer. When you project calm assurance, others will respond in kind. But if you are crazed with stress, using fear as evidence, or getting paralyzed by the unknown, so are your people.

Every day brings a multitude of blessings our way. It is up to us to recognize them for the gifts they are.

About the Author

Patricia OverlandPatricia Overland is a Coaching Solutions Partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Coaching Services team.  Since 2000, Blanchard’s 150 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services. And check out Coaching Tuesday every week at Blanchard LeaderChat for ideas, research, and inspirations from the world of executive coaching.

2 thoughts on “3 Ways to Recognize the Gifts to Be Found in Turmoil

  1. The sad alternative, that you might not have heard these stories, was transcended by what appeared to be an accident. Why do we not take or make time to share stories of life lessons learned? That, to me, is the primary question. We get too busy with “other things” thinking perhaps we’ll get around to it later and it’s later right now than it’s ever been. Families are rich in storied lives and to miss those is to miss one of life’s greatest blessings. Gratitude, gratiude, gratitude, even for the struggles that teach us so much. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I couldn’t agree more Patricia. I think there’s always something to learn in times of turmoil – and by having this mindset you can really look past all the negatives and feel better during tough situations. Much respect to your father for still getting out there at his age.

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