Over the last six years I’ve had the honor of sharing my message with hundreds of thousands of people around the world.
During this time I’ve met unforgettable individuals with unforgettable stories, remarkable courage and unbreakable spirit.
Meeting these people has been amazing; but the most remarkable person I’ve found was not on the road, but at home.
For more than two decades one of my heroes, my Dad, has battled Parkinson’s disease. It is a degenerative disorder that gradually impacts everything physically. In time, Parkinson’s disease rips away one’s ability to work, type, write, drive, walk and speak.
As a result it becomes increasingly difficult to socialize with others or participate in personal hobbies. As obviously difficult as this disease is for my Dad, it amazes me that I’ve never heard him complain.
I asked dad how he remains so positive when dealing with such difficulty. He responded that he couldn’t possibly be negative when he’s got so much to be grateful for. I then asked him to share with me three things he’s grateful for as a result of Parkinson’s disease. Dad responded immediately:
- I am grateful it wasn’t a more serious disease.
- I am grateful for the time to reflect on who I am and who God is.
- I am grateful for my relationship with your Mom; we’ve grown even closer.
Here is a disease that rips everything from the sufferer (and he is grateful it wasn’t worse); forces them into isolation (and he is grateful for the time to reflect); and causes them to be dependent on others (and he is grateful for that relationship).
I stood to give my dad a big hug. He quietly but firmly said to me: “Sit down, John. I’m not finished.” He continued:
- I am grateful for medical technology – and those who provide it.
- I am grateful for the empathy I’ve gained for others with challenges.
- When I can’t walk or speak, I am grateful for the days I could.
- When we drive, I am grateful for the handicap spot.
- I am grateful I was given the time to write Overwhelming Odds.
- I am grateful to still see, hear, learn, laugh and love.
- I am grateful for being healed, even if not cured.
This terrible disease, his intense physical pain, the stress on my Mom (another one of my heroes), his inability to earn a living, the resulting financial struggle and his immobility has lead to some of the greatest gifts in my Dad’s life, because he chooses to look for them.
My friends, we all know people who have everything and are grateful for nothing. We also know others who have nothing and are grateful for everything.
Great leaders choose gratitude. [Tweet this.]
They choose to seek good each day in their challenges, their opportunities, their relationships and their world. The reward of their choice is the discovery that in pursuing good today they unlock even greater gifts tomorrow.
Today you choose, on purpose or by default, to have gratitude or ingratitude. I challenge you to make the choice to fill your heart with gratitude. It does not come by itself, but with other incredible companions that ignite joy, possibility and the truth that the best is yet to come.
Share a list of the ten things you are most grateful for on my Facebook wall by to be entered to win one of my Gratitude Month Kits! You must post by midnight CST tonight; the winner will be announced tomorrow morning on my Facebook page and in the comments on my blog.