Gene's Note: What's Going Well?

Each October, we gather all of our team members together to recognize all of their accomplishments, share our plans for the future and to deliver an inspiring message. It is so rewarding for me to see the entire “Rogue family” all in one spot and catch up with our team members from all over Southern Oregon. I am fortunate to work with such a talented and member-focused team. Each year, our Employee Development team sits down to plan the agenda and consider which message would bring the most inspiration to our team members.

This year, we searched far and wide to find a speaker that could provide perspective, a speaker that would engage our team members and a speaker that would provide a meaningful and lasting message. Fortunately, we were able to find that speaker right here in Oregon. Greg Bell, a former University of Oregon basketball player, and now a national speaker, has written two books sharing the lessons that he was taught as a child, learned as a major college athlete and as a husband and father. His books Water the Bamboo and What’s Going Well, resonated with our Employee Development team and we knew his message would resonate with our team members.

In the morning of our All Employee training day, Greg shared the concept behind his book Water the Bamboo. Growing bamboo requires a focused effort and how you must faithfully water the bamboo for three years before you even see a sprout, but then within 60 days, the bamboo will grow over 90 feet in height. His message focused on patience, persistence and belief that doing the right thing will reap tremendous benefits.

It was Greg’s message in the afternoon that really hit home with me and with our team members. As we think about the proliferation of social media, the instant access to information and the media focus on our differences instead of our similarities, it is easy to become jaded. It is easy to see our glass as half empty, instead of half full. I have always been a believer in “we become what we consume” and if it is all negative, we tend to only see the bad things. We become immune to all the goodness that is around us and look past the acts of kindness and focus on the problems. We get can easily get stuck in the spiral of disappointment and despair.

Well, the gift I wanted to share with you came from the message that Greg shared with the Rogue team that afternoon in October. It is such a simple, but powerful gift. He provided our team with the power to change perspective. He provided our team with a simple tool to help us see the opportunity in the challenge and he provided our team with one simple question that can flip the switch on your personal outlook. Greg simply asked, “what’s going well?”

When was the last time that you really thought about “what’s going well” in your life? Every one of us can identify the challenges in our life. We can easily identify what we don’t have, but how many times do we truly stop to think about the blessings in our life? When we greet people, we normally say “how are you doing?” And we get a variety of responses that are often a list of the struggles that people are facing. Sometimes I watch these exchanges and see people try to “out-negative” each other.  It seems we have to prove that our situation is the most dire, as we battle to see who has had the worst day, week or month.           

So, ask yourself “what’s going well?” It is hard at first, but it becomes easier as your mind becomes more receptive to the positive aspects of your life. Once you master asking yourself “what’s going well?” then ask your spouse or significant other, a child, or a friend “what’s going well?”

Sometimes people will start with one positive and then bury the positive with multiple negatives. Latch onto the positive and celebrate their positive perspective and encourage them to share more aspects of “what’s going well?” in their life. You will be surprised with the reaction. I love to see the smile or the special twinkle in someone’s eyes when they start to think about the good things that are going on in their lives. Relish those moments where you get to be the catalyst that changes the conversation to goodness and hope, it is a powerful and rewarding opportunity.

The results are real whether it is with your family, friends, or business associates. One of our Leadership Team members, Chad, shared with me how he took the “what’s going well?” question home and asked it at the dinner table with his family. He shared with me that the question really worked. It changed the conversation, and everyone felt so good afterwards, that they decided to make it a regular part of their family dinner conversations in the future. Well, the family dinner table was a safe place to share the question. So, he decided to take a bigger risk and at a group dinner of credit union peers just a few days later, Chad asked the group “what’s going well?” The first response was a general answer about what kind of work they were doing for their credit union, but Chad challenged them to share “what’s going well?” for them personally. Later, Chad shared with me that the question and encouragement to go deeper, completely changed the table conversation in a positive and encouraging way. He stated that the other person had said multiple times, that it was the most engaging business dinner conversation that he had ever enjoyed!

So, it works! “What’s going well?” is a simple, but powerful gift you can share with those that you love and care about. I was reminded recently about the “ice bucket challenge” that took our country by storm a few years ago. So, how about a “what’s going well?” challenge? How about asking, “what’s going well?” at the holiday dinner table? How about being the catalyst for helping others see the possibilities, instead of the limitations in life. How about flipping the script and starting a tradition of seeing all that we have to be thankful for? How about sharing the gift of hope with one simple question, “what’s going well?”

I am so appreciative of Greg Bell’s encouragement to think about “what’s going well?” and the special gift he has given all of us to be a beacon of light for all the goodness that we enjoy! As always, please share your thoughts in response to my message. I truly enjoy the e-mails that you send me sharing your stories and I would love to hear how your “what’s going well?” challenge worked for you!

Happy Holidays!