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Being Grateful in Challenging Times

Being Grateful in Challenging Times

2020, the year in which so much of what we were comfortable with went sideways. Even with all the challenges we’ve faced this year, it’s important to remember—and acknowledge—how much we have to be thankful for. So, in keeping with the season, I wanted to share what I’m most grateful for this year.


First and foremost, we are extremely lucky to work with great partners (clients). For me, the most rewarding aspect of working with them is the relationships we’re able to build with each other through the months (or years!) of collaborating on projects. Feeling like we can open up and be ourselves, cracking jokes or just hearing about their successes makes our jobs that much more fulfilling. The best day of my work year, so far, was hearing from a client that THEIR client (the ultimate end-user) had raved about the application and the newly released features we built together. 

I am grateful for our partners—for their candor and kindness.


Our Far Reach team has a retrospective meeting at the end of each sprint every two weeks (or occasionally more often). In these “retros,” we talk about what didn’t go well, what experiments we tried during the sprint, and what went well. Before each retro, the team reflects upon how the sprint went and adds their thoughts and experiences to a virtual board to discuss as a team. Sometimes the “what went well” column explodes with excitement and success! Other times, it’s the “what didn’t go well” items where we find the most important lessons, even if those things are sometimes uncomfortable to talk about. It helps that we always keep this scrum prime directive in mind:

Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand.”

With this understanding firmly in place, our team members really own the things they learned and in the spirit of generosity and continuous improvement, they share their growth with the team.

I am grateful for challenges, vulnerability, and continually improving.


This trying year forced many of us to adjust how we work, day-in and day-out. While it has certainly been challenging, it’s important to recognize the good that can come from reevaluating what you’re doing and how you’re doing it, even if you didn’t choose to do it on your own or on your own timeline. Being forced to think creatively in order to thrive in a new reality can transform what was once “good” into something “great.” Whether it’s finding new ways to connect when in-person new business meetings aren’t possible, discovering fun ways of showing customer appreciation from afar, or simply realizing that something you once did because “we’ve always done it that way” just isn’t necessary anymore, the opportunities for creativity can be transformative in a good way.

I’m grateful for opportunities where I get to and have to be creative.


I was recently on a training call with an Iowa-based instructor who volunteered her time to teach us about Liberating Structures, her area of expertise. She was happy to share her time and knowledge with us and expected nothing in return. 

I am grateful for people who are so passionate about what they do that they’re willing to give freely of themselves to help others. Positivity is contagious!  


Can you imagine if this pandemic had happened during the dial-up-internet or pre-internet era? It’s hard to imagine how much more difficult it would have been. I’m glad I wasn’t around in 1919 to experience it! Even though technology can be a double-edged sword, it’s such a blessing that we all can be miles, states, or countries apart, yet still be connected. We can—and should—use the technology we have for good. Create the space for a 5-minute chat before or after a Zoom meeting, Slack a coworker to see how his kids are doing, or take the laptop and work in a new room in the house for a week.

I am grateful for the flexibility and connectedness that technology offers our team and, by extension, our partners.

A Useful Tip

If you find yourself in a funk about what you “can’t” do this year, take 5 minutes and write down 5 things you’re grateful for. I promise this one simple thing will make you feel better.

Wishing you health and safety in this holiday season.