Taking Steps toward Leadership–Cheerful

Cheerful…Full of Cheer.  PollyAnna.  Sickeningly sweet.  Naive.  Borrrrring.  Not really bright.  Cheerful does not have a good reputation.  Why?!!!!  Given a choice between being grumpy and being cheerful, why would anyone choose grumpy?  I have a wonderful neighbor who’s very cheerful.  She’s smart, she’s powerful, she is a joy to be with.  I have another neighbor I avoid like the plague because all she does is complain.  She’s about 5 years younger than I am and looks about 20 years older.  She has permanent frown lines (that she complains about by the way) and all the Mary Kay ladies love her because she spends a fortune trying to look younger.  So now she has beautiful skin, perfect glamour make-up, and still looks old and grumpy.  He son doesn’t write or call, her daughter never drops by with the kids, her window treatments are out of date, her garden has weeds, her car needs a new set of brakes, life is one trial after another.  The cheerful neighbor, however, never complains.  But this I know…She has had 1 child that was murdered, another that died unexpectedly for medical reasons, and another that is hopelessly addicted to crack and pills.  She’s been fighting alcoholism for years, and is a faithful member of AA.  She is divorced and living on disability.  She’s had to raise 2 of her grandchildren.  Which one has more right to complain?  Let me think…  Both neighbors go to church, but one goes because that’s what you do on Sundays.  You go get dressed up and then you see what the others are wearing, then catch up on the gossip after the service.  The other goes to pray and worship and catch up and support her friends with prayers.  One donates money and complains that the church is always asking for more.  The other donates time, even time she doesn’t have, and her expertise, and her friendship, and her service.  She is anxious to do as much as possible for others and receives so many blessings from her giving that she never complains.

Being Cheerful is a choice.  It’s a hard choice though.  Why is it so hard to choose cheerfulness?  If you’re grumpy, you can’t be disappointed.  If things go wrong, you can always say, “Ya, it was bound to happen some time.  It’s good I wasn’t expecting much.”  The main flaw in that argument is that you depend on outside forces to make you cheerful.  There is this person who had not had a very good time for a long while.  Cheated out of the house she’d grown up in, betrayed by her family, unable to get health care for her back problems has made her grumpy, and sad, and a complainer.  She absolutely believes that if she could get her house back, it would fix everything.  I absolutely believe that if she got her house back, she’d find some other reason she can’t be cheerful.  She spends all of her time worrying, and crying, and bemoaning her current condition.  It is a way of life, a perspective on her situation that she’s adopted to help her get through her days.  My cheerful neighbor says, “Life’s too short to think about the things you don’t have and what you’ve lost and not on the blessings you receive every day.  Thinking about your lack does not fill the lack.  Thinking on your blessings brings more blessings.”  I think she’s a very wise person.

So what is required of a cheerful person?  Every morning, a cheerful person greets the day with excitement and anticipation.  Cheerful people LOOK for things to be cheerful about, ie:  Look at the humming birds!  Check out the sunrise!  I got no bills today!  My children got commendations from their teachers about being so cheerful!  My tomatoes survived the freeze!  You needn’t look very hard or into obscure places to find something to be cheerful about.  Does that mean that awful things don’t happen to cheerful people.  It most certainly does not.  The difference is the response to the awful things.  “Isn’t that interesting?”  “I am now fascinated.”  “How can I turn this around to make it positive?”  “I know where can I get help in this situation.”  It does not mean that they do not mourn, or feel sad about how things happen, but they don’t dwell on those feelings.  The negative emotions do not consume them.

Art Williams, the inspirational founder of A.L. Williams, used to say, “Nobody will follow a negative, dull, disillusioned, frustrated, dadgum crybaby. They just won’t do it.”  He is right.  If you are going to lead, you have to be cheerful.  Even when things don’t go your way, be cheerful.  Even when you are not prepared to meet certain challenges, realize that that situation can be remedied and be cheerful.  Even if you cannot accomplish what you set out to do by yourself, (the reason you have to lead is to get help doing something bigger than you!) be cheerful.  They can be negative, dull, disillusioned, frustrated, dad-gum crybabies without a leader.  But a cheerful, enthusiastic, positive person with vision and a crusade–a purpose and a goal can lead people anywhere.  A cheerful leader gives people a role they can aspire to, and inspiration to be more than they thought possible.  Who wouldn’t want that?!

This puts all the previous subjects about leadership into a different light.  You aren’t grudgingly trustworthy, reluctantly loyal, or helpful and courteous under protest,  or unenthusiastically friendly, or involuntarily obedient!  You are CHEERFUL in every aspect.  The attitude that accompanies each of those qualities is the difference between my cheerful neighbor and my grumpy neighbor.  My grumpy neighbor would be none of those things if it wasn’t required of someone who aspires to be considered upper middle class.  My cheerful neighbor is all of those things because it is a joy to her and her perspective on life is that all of those qualities: trustworthiness, friendliness, etc., are a response to her perspective, not a requirement.  So in all things, be cheerful!

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