Ways to distinguish yourself #142 – Count your blessings everyday!

Note: This is my 500th post since I started blogging on February 14, 2005. This is special for me and I am blessed to have made a ton of new friends through this blog. A big thanks to GOD and to every one of you.

In India, thousands of kids are taught to follow this simple practice before every meal. I am sure this is true in many cultures across the world. The message to the kids is clear and simple:

Before you start your meal, close your eyes and thank GOD for providing that meal.

It is a simple act of counting your blessings EVERYDAY. In our quest to go after what we don’t have, we tend to totally forget what we already have.

Let’s do a simple exercise. Start with zero. Take a look at the following list and for every item you got, add a point to your score

1. You don’t have any physical handicaps
2. You get at least two meals everyday
3. You have a family
4. You get safe drinking water
5. You have a college degree
6. You have a job
7. YOu have a car to get to work
8. You have at least 2 close friends
9. You have a home to live (rental or own)
10. You have a TV at home
11. You have freedom of speech in the country you live.
12. You can afford to send your kids to school.

I can go on further. But I guess you get the point. Did you notice how many things you took for granted?

Because everyone around us are running like crazy to get what they don’t have and because nobody around us wants to be grateful for what they ALREADY have, it may seem reasonable to follow the crowd and get into the same trap – but that won’t let you distinguish yourself. Common sense will say that if you follow the crowd, you should not expect to “stand out” from it.

When I talk about this during my speaking engagements, typically there are some people that argue against it. Their main points against this are:

a) this will lead to complacency
b) there won’t be a motivation to stretch

My point though has nothing to do with ambition or motivation. I don’t think there is any connection to having the gratitude and feeling blessed everyday with going after your dreams. Of course, you can always connect seemingly unrelated things with your creativity. That’s not the point. Why should feeling blessed dampen your dreams? In fact, if you don’t learn the art of having the gratitude, when you reach your dreams, you may not even see it as your sights are new on the “new” dream. This dream, that you just achieved is taken for granted in a heartbeat.

Here’s another scenario. Being where I am (Silicon Valley) I get to meet a ton of wannabe entrepreneurs – young and energetic dreamers. Sometimes their ideas are broken but their enthusiasm is not. However, after listening to them for a few minutes, you know that they won’t take the plunge. It’s easy. The reason – most often they quote something that they don’t have – experience and skills. May be it’s marketing or sales or finance or something that they don’t have. They almost want a strong reason to NOT take the plunge. In the process, what they forget is what they have. In a quest to get what they don’t have, they stop spending time and improve their areas of strengths. Meet them few years later and you will see that they are in an eternal quest – may be an MBA program or a change of job that will “round up” their skillset or something of that sort.

Here is an alternate approach – plain and simple:

1. Be thankful for what you have (your strengths)
2. Work relentlessly to improve them
3. Find team mates to complete a configuration necessary for your business
4. Get lots of help – you will need it
5. Execute!

The first step is VERY important – you got to start loving what you have!

The bottom line: If you can’t feel blessed for what you HAVE, why go after what you didn’t have? Because, simply speaking, when you get what you don’t have, you will HAVE it and you won’t feel blessed because you ALREADY HAVE it and your new goal will be to acquire something that you don’t have again. Want it to be more simple – why try to get something that you don’t have time to enjoy?