Leadership Simplified: Doug Van Dyke


The Thankful Leader: 2020

Volume: November 2020

This year has been the strangest and one of the toughest of my life. In fact, if this has not been the strangest year of your life you, my friend, have lived a wild one. Yet, with so many challenges still facing us, we have much to be thankful for. With Thanksgiving fast approaching, let us take stock and reflect outwardly and inwardly on the many things for which we have to be thankful.
If ever there was a year that we needed friends and all the richness they bring to our world, it has been 2020. Not only do I have the best clients in the world (and the coolest!), but I am blessed to have the most incredible friends on the planet. On a daily basis, I’m in front of groups of people. It is not uncommon for me to be speaking in front of hundreds of people. I love people. However, sometimes I can be a very private person. And one-on-one time with my closet friends is some of the most cherished time of my life. I am blessed with the most amazing friends. Some, but certainly not all of them, are named Chris, Kevin, Joan, Michael, Risa, Jonathan, Jim, David, and of course, my buddy Lee. This year, however, I lost one of them to Covid-19.  
Brian Claybaugh was one in-shape dude. When he was younger, he played competitive soccer on the world stage. Over the past weeks I have searched my memory banks, and for the life of me I do not have a memory of Brian when he was not smiling. Telling a story to Brian was such fun. As the story would unfold, Brian would be lasered in. There would be a glint in his eye and a growing smile. And when you hit the punchline he would laugh heartily, authentically. He was marvelous. When he would tell a story there was a boyish charm in his Oklahoma-twang. His stories just kept you smiling, even if they were about the weather. Brian’s wife, Tara, is one of my wife’s BFFs. The love affair of Brian and Tara is one of magic. Storybook. In August, Brian contracted Covid-19. He spent 19 days on a ventilator before he died. He was 46 years old. Brian’s memory haunts me every day. But in such a good way. I can’t quite get his laugh out of my head. And that smile. It is indelibly imprinted in my mind, Brian’s broad, wonderful, sincere, smile.  

Brian Claybaugh 1974 - 2020

Your Organization
This year has stressed-tested every organization. And without fail, every organization I have seen has risen to the occasion. Frankly, I have been blown away by the incredible job our clients have done during the Covid era. Plus, the Herculean work of every team member this year has been nothing less than inspiring. Whether you are part of a small shop or work for a Fortune 500 company, odds are good there are many things for which to give thanks. Take a moment and make a list of the top five positives related to your organization. Give thanks for those five items. Be intentional about using your leadership influence to enhance your organization’s strengths going forward. All of this years’ challenges have not been overcome. However, there is a lovely light on the horizon. This too shall pass.
Your Customers/Clients/Patients
Be thankful for your customers or whatever moniker suits the people your organization serves. Heck, providing excellent service and products to customers is an organization’s reason for existing. This week, review your list of customers, clients, patients, internal colleagues. They are people, even though the client name may say ABC Corp. Give thanks for the many professionals who are your customers and who attempt to do their best each day. As you review your customer list, take pause by each name and think about the positives they bring to your organization.
Your Team
Be thankful for the professionals that comprise your team. Some are frustrating, but most are heroes. Savor them. Ponder the positives and the smiles that your co-workers bring to the workplace. Share effective feedback with your people and help them feel valued. Place differences to the side. Rather, give thanks for the sometimes difficult situations that seemingly drive co-workers or groups apart. Ultimately, we grow stronger from experiencing and overcoming workplace challenges. While it is a trite but true acronym for TEAM: “together everyone achieves more.” Share your thanks, directly and in-person, with others in your organization. I will let you in on a secret, your team members are thankful for your leadership. Share a meaningful moment with them this week.   
Your Thirst to Learn
The fact that you are reading this newsletter connotes that you are a life-long learner. Give thanks for the fact that you love to grow your skills and enhance your knowledge. It is a terrific trait, and certainly something worthy of giving thanks. Keep on learning. Keep on growing. In fact, I challenge you to make a list of the three areas in which you will grow and learn during 2021. Take time, ponder how you want to raise your bar of excellence. The rest becomes easy. It is merely a matter of execution. Learn and be thankful for this desire.

Take time to have special moments with your significant other and close family members this week. My wife, Veronica, is incredible. I am thankful for her support, encouragement, and love. Without family, leaders can easily become lost. Our family and friends can serve as a compass for us, as well as a foundation. Savor. Give thanks for the many amazing people who are part of your circle of friends and part of your family. Yes, even that family member.
Health, Spirituality & Your Ability to Endure
We all have differing levels of health. Give thanks for what health you have. Strive to be healthier – in your mind, with your body, in your soul. Savor your spirituality and give thanks mightily during this holiday season. Cherish your ability to endure. The amount of endurance I have witnessed this year is amazing. Stay the course leaders. Do not lose focus. We must stay healthy and strong to endure the challenges (and opportunities) that we will encounter in the next year.
Allies & Outside Resources
Every organization has people outside of it who provide value. Take time to give thanks for those who refer business to you. Appreciate service providers who help you when you are in a bind. Make a list of the top seven people outside of your organization who positively impact your work world. Give them a call or reach out in some way. Let them know you are thankful for their efforts and their acumen.
Your Country
While this newsletter is read by leaders in 17 countries, all of those countries are free and wonderful. Be thankful for your country and what it stands for. Give thanks to the men and women of your nation who sacrifice to keep it free. Realize that despite all challenges we live in a marvelous, exciting time. Be confident in the knowledge that good always triumphs over evil. Give thanks for your nation!
Be Thankful for Yourself
Some of you are funny, and all of you like to laugh. Some of you are great thinkers, and all of you contemplate each day. Some of you are creative, and some of you appreciate creativity. However, all of you are unique and talented. Take a moment and look in the mirror. Give thanks for who you are and what you have accomplished. You are a leader. You make positive differences in people’s lives. And you accomplish meaningful things each day. Give yourself a break, and give yourself some thanks.  
Bottom Line: Be an incredible leader and give thanks this week. There is much to appreciate. Look around. There is heroism everywhere. Peek through the foggy curtains that are created by stress and tasks, and simply gaze. Then, take pause. And, be thankful for your amazing world.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! Until next time, be well.
Doug Van Dyke is sincerely thankful for the incredible people and organizations in his world. He is a Tampa Bay based executive coach, leadership development expert, and strategic planner. To learn more about leadership development programs, coaching, strategic planning, or to have Doug speak at your next event, visit www.leadershipsimplified.com or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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