Coronavirus, Complexity & Dad's Broken Ribs: Choosing Gratitude

Wow. It’s been a rough four months.  Hasn't it?

When it Started:

Friday, March 13, 2020 was the day THE COVID REALITY sunk in and I understood my life and work was going to change. . . immediately.

The next morning I wrote Clarity in Crisis,  back when my priority concerns were canceled events and canceled vacation reservations - plus my dad’s pending non-essential heart procedure. 

In the beginning, my mindset was "for a few weeks."  I recall my eyes nearly popping out of their sockets when a colleague suggested I plan for what then seemed a incomprehensible: 12-weeks of being confined at home.  

Probably 10 weeks, but plan for 12. 

Just in Case.  Incomprehensible.


It Didn't Get Easier. . . 

In late May my heart ached and my gut knotted-up as the US moaned and mourned and clenched its fists and took a stand via a variety of responses to a suffocating knee on the neck of George Floyd as he gasped for his final breath.  I remember sharing my heartache with a team member during a weekly planning meeting:

“Who could have imagined the world could get even more complex!”  

To which this bright and competent young professional responded:

“Janyne, it’s the Interim Normal you talked about.” 


She was referring to our April 16 webinar “Clarity in Crisis: Navigating the Interim Normal making the case that we are definitely NOT in a New Normal; we're in for a roller-coaster ride.  

It Got Harder. . . And More Personal

Fast forward to three weeks ago when my Dad took a spill in a Floridian parking lot.  Dad was hurried by ambulance to the hospital, without Mom, who was not allowed to ride with him nor was she allowed to enter the hospital due to COVID.  48 hours later, I'm pushing my cart to the tee box of Field Club’s 4th hole and my iphone vibrates.  It was my big brother calling.  Dad had been rushed to the cardiac ward in response to critical heart complications.  (Good news.  Two days later Dad was released to a rehab facility - thankfully - located on their retirement community campus.)  

What would be a really hard situation at any time due to the uncertainty that comes with a beloved 83-year-old parent taking a fall is now deeply complicated by quarantines and travel restrictions.  It's my Interim Normal - a challenging, unpredictable rollercoaster ride. 

And we all have our hard Interim Normal stories.  We are definitely not anything close to landing in the comfort and stability of a New Normal.

All the while my husband and I have two small businesses to run.  Teams to lead. Cultures to nurture.  Customers to serve.  Deadlines to deliver.  Payroll to make.  Bills to pay. 

And hard as it is, complex as it is, I continue to challenge myself to choose gratitude.  I don't share this as a platitude.  As some trite, superficial choice.  Intentional Gratitude is THE most successful course of action I believe I can possibly choose.  

Why? Gratitude is a mindset that changes everything.

Gratitude grabbed my attention on March 8, 2020, during a Sunday sermon when I heard: 

Gratitude is the guardrail to protect against driving-off road into a dangerous victim-filled, poverty-focused mindset.

  A poverty, never-enough mindset is grounded in fear.  A gratitude mindset fuels peace, joy, and contentedness.  I want peace in the storm.  Joy in the struggle.

Ironically, on March 8, just five days before COVID rocked my world, the idea was birthed to host a Thanksgiving in July – Annual Gratitude Summit.  The local event site was chosen.  The team enlisted.  And while so much has changed since March 8, today I’m thrilled to share on July 20, 2020, 4pm Central, this vision will become a reality - a different reality but a reality none-the-less. 

Here's why Gratitude matters:

  • When leaders extend gratitude, their team members are more likely to be innovative, engaged, and – get this - grateful themselves.  Gratitude begets gratitude. 
  • People who extend gratitude open the door for more relationships because people who are thanked are more likely to desire an ongoing relationship.  Basically, the Thank-ee wants to stay connected with the Thank-er.
  • People who are grateful are more likely to demonstrate behaviors that support both physical and emotional health.  
  • Gratitude fuels better sleep, better self-esteem, less aggression, and more empathy.  

Yet, research shows leaders struggle with a grateful mindset.  The renowned Center for Creative Leadership summarizes this well in “Giving Thanks Will Make You a Better Leader

“Despite its compelling benefits, expressing gratitude doesn’t always happen at work. One study found that while about half of people regularly say thank you to their family members, only about 15% of people regularly say thank you at work. The same study found that 35% of people say that their managers have never thanked them. This muted expression of gratitude in the workplace compared to other contexts can be thought of as the “gratitude gap.”

Yet a recent Glassdoor survey found that 80% of employees say they would be willing to work harder for an appreciative boss.

These statistics suggest that leaders who encourage gratitude in the workplace are likely to reap the benefits of a more engaged and productive workforce — as employees who practice gratitude even take fewer sick days. And at a study conducted at a fundraising center, calls were boosted by 50% after a director thanked employees for their work.

So why is there a gratitude gap in the workplace? Wharton Business School professor Adam Grant believes it’s because people don’t like to admit they need help at work, and thanking someone means admitting you couldn’t do it all on your own.”

Here's a free opportunity to Get Your Gratitude On!

I personally invite you, and whomever you choose to share this invite with, to join us at our inaugural Thanksgiving in July - Gratitude Summit  featuring CEO Patricia Kearns P.T. and Neuropsychologist Jeff Snell, Ph.D.  In the midst of the challenges of your own Interim Normal(TM), be intentional.  Register today.  Choose gratitude!

Learn More and Register here.


Gratitude in the hard places

A few days ago Dad was released from his 14-day quarantine in the rehab center.  He still has a mountain to climb.  A long, tall mountain. 

So I call Dad in the mornings.  It's his best time of the day.  I love that he still answers the phone the same way he answered a call throughout his career as an HR executive:

"This is Jim Peek" always with a little singy-songy lilt in the "Peek"

"Hey Old Man!" my term of endearment for Dad

"Well bless my soul!  Nyne!" 

And I am grateful. 

Here's a photo I found from 1964, Dad teaching me to type in our apartment in Queens, NY.  It's the ancient, noisy manual typewriter that Dad composed his college papers on at University of Missouri.  10 years later, when I was 12, we lived in the Chicago suburbs.  Dad and I would ride the 5:00am Saturday train from Barrington IL to downtown Chicago and and I'd "go to work" outside his office, composing poetry on his staff's IBM Selectric Typewriters.  Today, here I am.  In my own office, typing, writing, thinking about Dad.  Grateful!

Are you a leader seeking gratitude, but are stuck?  Schedule a complimentary 15- minute consultation with Janyne Peek Emsick, Ph.D.  at and together we'll envision what un-stuck might look like. 


Ready to ramp up your Gratitude?

Join us Monday July 20, 4pm Central (9pm GMT) as we host Patricia Kearns, President and CEO of multiple-time Best Places to Work award-winning QLI, Inc, and Dr. Jeff Snell, Director, Psychology and Neuropsychology Services at QLI.  Pat and Jeff are not only best-in-class leaders, but also, they are industry-leading brain experts who will help you capitalize on the brain transforming (and life transforming) power of gratitude.

Register here



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