Two business representatives for a sneaker company went to a third world country and saw everyone wore sandals. One came back and said, “It’s no good, no one has sneakers.” The other said, “What do you mean?? This is great! No one has sneakers!”

The difference between glass half full and half empty is all perception. You can find silver linings in any difficult situation. I often mentor people and give them this exact message. Some examples:

  • You are having trouble finding a design job. That is stressful, but it’s the perfect time to sharpen your skills and build up your portfolio. When you have a job, it’s hard to dedicate time to learning. Plus the struggle will make you appreciate the job when you land it.
  • Your new job has bad practices. That can be frustrating, but it’s an opportunity to do things the right way and show how you can lead people to a better future.
  • You messed up some project. It doesn’t feel good for sure, but I’ve learned more from my mistakes than from my successes. I hate the phrase Fail Fast. Instead, I like Learn Fast.

I often tell people that I am not the leader you hire when everything is great. I am the one you hire when you want to improve, to change, to transform, and progress.

In the past 9 months, I have been leading the largest group I have ever attempted. If I could go back in time and tell myself what I would accomplish in this period – I would laugh and say that’s way too much. Yet, the reality stands for itself.

I feel like I have been getting very lucky and have somehow had a career uniquely suited to this very moment. I feel like I have been practicing for 27 years to execute right now.

An overwhelming feeling of gratitude has taken root. Every mistake I’ve made, every experiment, every learning, and every challenge has prepared me for this moment. All of my bad bosses showed me how not to act. So many influential leaders that I have been lucky enough to work with instilled technique and culture into me. My values have been forged through heat of the kiln.

If you are in the beginning or middle of your career, you may be frustrated with something. You may yearn for a brighter future. I can promise you that, one day, you will look back at this time and feel gratitude for the lessons.

It’s certainly easy to say “things are good now, so you feel gratitude. Let’s hear you say that when things are shit.” This is fair. However, if you look back at my 2,141 blog posts, I think you will find very few posts of negativity.

Gratitude is something you can practice. I actually use this blog for many purposes, one of which is to practice gratefulness. I hope maybe this helps you practice it too. If you look hard enough you can find opportunity, learning, and an upside to every situation.



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