“Don’t Cry Because It’s Over, Smile Because It Happened.”

The fall season has always been a time to turn inward and find moments of gratitude, and more specifically, people that I think about who have helped me along the way. At times, that reflection of gratitude brings with it saddens over colleagues, friends, and moments that I cherished. But as we all know, things change and there are endings as well as new beginnings; friends move to far away cities, marriages end, and we are left to chose who we support. Colleagues find other jobs and move across country, with a promise to “stay in touch.” In some cases, I take a new role and have to say goodbye to a team that I built and loved.

Maybe I am the only one inflicted with this malady, but I have noticed throughout my career and personal life that it’s hard to let go of the “good stuff” before finding the next place where good stuff can happen. Sometimes grief sets in and it’s hard to smile, and easy to “cry” over the loss of working with a great team, or even the times that you shared a drink with coworkers that you really valued as colleagues, mentors, and friends. I have a long list of CIOs, CEOs, teachers and mentors that have taught me so much and helped me grow to be the leader that I am now. It’s really easy to miss those moments and the people that created them. One is left with a choice to be sad or to look fondly at those memories.

Dr. Seuss’ words are most appropriate during times of change. As I turn that page from one story to the next, I am comforted with his admonition:

“Don’t Cry Because It’s Over, Smile Because It Happened.”

Smile for all of the good memories.

Smile for connecting with a great team and leading them to excel and achieve great results.

Smile for the positive difference they have made in your life as well as the difference you had in theirs.

But maybe cry (for a bit) if that is one way to express joy that it happened and be grateful for the experience.

Although change is difficult when you feel that you have a lot of things to lose and leave behind, it’s important to stay focused on the “Why,” because that might be the most important aspect of finding a new sense of energy, enthusiasm, and purpose about what lies ahead. In many ways, Dr. Seuss is reminding us to be grateful for the experiences we have enjoyed, and to remember to thank everyone along the way that has helped us or tried to convince us that we can do more or be better.

So I end of a with a list of practices to help you get that smile again during times of transition and change.

  1. Send a note to each person that has created something positive in your life. Never forget all of the people that have helped you. Remember the small stuff as much as the big. (read this to see what i mean)
  2. Think about how you can be a positive influence in someone else’s life. If you’re grateful that someone gave you an opportunity and believed in you, how are you going to pay that gratitude back? Are you investing in others?
  3. Showing appreciation for others should not happen once a year! In the midst of the daily grind, create moments of gratitude to acknowledge those around you with a kind word, or a specific comment about why they are important and valuable.
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