Giving the Gift of Gratitude

Giving the Gift of Gratitude

Gratitude – the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness; a strongfeeling of appreciation to someone or something.  

Gratitude is the one emotion I purposefully focus on each day. It allows me to acknowledge all the good in my life, to positively acknowledge what I have and what others have given me, be it advice, time, or pieces of themselves. It is for this reason that Thanksgiving is my most very favorite holiday. How can one not love a day that celebrates that which you are thankful for with food and no gifts!  

If the world was perfect, I would advocate for changing Thanksgiving Day to Gratitude DayThankfulness and gratitude are similar in that they are words often used to express the benefits we receive in life.   

Gratitude means you are grateful, and you can show it in many ways including helping someone without expecting the return of favor or inviting someone to your home for a meal just because you don’t want them to be alone. Gratitude can be a way of life for someone.  

On the other hand, thankfulness often means nothing more than saying the words, “Thank you.” Saying “thank you” is very goodhowever, it is most often said after you have received the benefit. Unfortunately, it is often a response given on auto pilot. Have you ever been distracted while being served only to wonder later if you remembered to say thank-you? It happens quite often.    

When you develop a gratitude attitude, you are setting yourself up for success.  

Gratitude is perhaps the most important key to finding success and happiness, especially in today’s tumultuous and chaotic word. Just knowing what we appreciate in life means knowing who we are, what matters to us, and what makes each day worthwhile. Paying attention to what we feel grateful for puts us in a positive frame of mind. It connects us to the world around us and to ourselves.   

Regardless of the barriers, finding your way to gratitude is the greatest gift you can give yourself. Think about it, you can’t give gratitude to anyone but yourselfChallenge your inner critical voice. Act grateful and you will find that you are grateful. Try meditation and mindfulness as they allow you to be present with yourself and the life you have. Take the time to realize that bucket list designation, allow yourself to dream, and dream big while you are at it.       

Do not only find your way to gratitude for yourself but do it for those you love. A person with gratitude is a happier person, a healthier person, and a person so much more fun to be around.    

Equally as important, you will find yourself open and willing to express authentic gratitude. What better time than now to celebrate gratitude with family and friends? Let them know how much you appreciate them.

Tip:  Developing the habit of gratitude takes work and commitment. I will admit current events infringe upon my gratitude attitude occasionally. As an antidote, I’ve adopted The Morning Sidekick Journal as a tool to keep me on focus. Iallows me to make a fresh start each day.   

Until next week!  


Mary Patry
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach  
 480.393.0722 (AZ)
 [email protected]

Let’s Talk sponsored by an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry. 

What’s Next? Seven Tips to Your Future Life

What’s Next? Seven Tips to Your Future Life

We all start our careers eager to learn and anxious to demonstrate our value. Along the way, we may marry and become parents. We contribute to our retirement fund and plan for old age. We assume we will leave the work force ready to relax and do whatever it is that retired people do. Rarely do we consider preparing for the potential of leaving our careers before we are ready.    

Throughout the forty plus years of an average career our enthusiasm for our profession ebbs and tides.  Some of us plan for early retirement only to discover we aren’t ready. We realize we have so much more to give.   

Several times a month I am contacted by a friend, a connection, or a stranger with comments like;   

It is clear I am being encouraged to leave. I am not ready to retire. What do I do?”  
I know it is time for me to leave, but I still need an income. What else might I do?” 
“I want to do something different but have not clue as to what. How did you figure it out?”
“I am not ready to retire. I have so much more to give.”   

The saddest situation is when a person in their late 50’s tells me: My job was eliminated. I fear my age will prevent me from finding a new one.”    

When I first started to receive these messages, I questioned if my articles or posts were accidently presenting me as a recruiter. I discovered that if you search for a recruiter on LinkedIn, I show up. I need to fix that, but in the meantime, it has given me many great opportunities to talk with senior people looking for a new job.    

My discussions revealed a prevailing common thread. Almost everyone I talked to was either not prepared to take on searching for a new role or not ready to consider their options in retirement. Most had not thought to plan for a career change later in life or what they would do after their current career.  As such, they were finding their options to be limited.   

It is unrealistic for a person to be thinking about their next act at the beginning of their career. They are all too consumed with making ends meet and paying off student loans. It is most helpful to begin planning near the middle of your career, no later than your mid-forties. This will give you 15-20 years to figure it out beyond financial planning.    

I am no expert at life planning. I can share lessons learned and scars earned layered on the ever-wise hindsight. With that I offer these rambling thoughts for anyone thinking about their next act  

  1. Find the hobby the feeds your passion.  My biggest challenge when attempting to retire was and is that I did not have a hobby or interests that fulfilled my overwhelming need to contribute.  I am working on that now by exploring various volunteer opportunities and by trying my hand at creative outlets. If I keep working at it, I think I might be there by 70. In the meantime, I am finding joy in spending time with family and friends.   
  2. Renew your basic office skills and keep them current.  Seriously. Many people leave their corporate executive role, aspiring to become a consultant, without understanding they will no longer have administrative assistance to plan their travel, create their proposals, or to create presentations. These basic skills will serve you well no matter what you have decided to do. 
  3. Consider a transition role before retirement.  One of the best career decisions I made (by accident I might add) was to leave a CIO role to take on a transformation leadership role. My last two corporate “gigs” were heading large transformation programs reporting to the CIO. These two roles helped me to renew my tool kit and prepared me like nothing else could to take on consulting. 
  4. Read “Threescores and More” by Alan Weiss.  The subtitle, “Applying the Assets of Maturity, Wisdom, and Experience for Personal and Professional Success” says it all. Every time I feel a sense of ageism, I pick up Threescores and allow Alan to set me straight. We can choose to let ageism get in our way, or we can choose to harness the power of wisdom our age grants us.    
  5. Read “Lifestormingby Alan Weiss and Marshall Goldsmith.  This book, written by two of my most favorite authors, guides you through exploring life in a bit by bit way. One of my favorite paragraphs is found early in the book. “Many people arise each day simply awaiting what occurs, without the intention of exerting themselves on the world.”  I believe that we all make a huge difference in creating our own lives, bad stuff happens, and we are best positioned when we are prepared for it.


    Let me pause by sharing my perspective of Alan and Marshall.  

    • Alan Weiss is THE consulting guru. He bills himself as the Contrarian Consultant. One of the BEST decisions I’ve made in my post retirement journey was taking courses from Alan. He is contrarian. He can come across as an ass. He challenges me every time we meet. At the same time, there is no one I respect more or have learned more from. If you are thinking of consulting as the next step, look to Alan to help. He has written over 500 articles and 60 books, including his best-seller, Million Dollar Consulting (from McGraw-Hill) now in its 25th year and fifth edition. It is on my bookshelf, well dog-eared and tagged. 
    • Marshall Goldsmith is my coaching hero and the role model I aspire to. I am blessed to have had the honor of meeting and learning from him live. He opens his website with “My mission is simple. I want to help successful people achieve positive, lasting change in behavior; for themselves, their people, and their teams. I want to help you make your life a little better.” He means what he says. Two of my favorite books authored by Marshall are: What got you here, wont get you there” and “How Women Rise with Sally Helgesen. I highly recommend adding both books to your reading list along with Lifestorming.  


  6.  Network! Get off your duff and build relationships.  I get that many IT professionals lean towards the introverted side on personality tests. I get that that the idea of networking can bring on anxiety. Guess what, it does for me too, and I am an extrovert. At the same time, waiting until you need a network is way too late. I’ve found the best way to get over the discomfort of networking is to be actively involved. By actively involved, I mean join in the conversation. Make a game of it such as how many new people have, I met and how many new friends have I made tonight. Join in conversations that interest you on LinkedIn, demonstrate your thought leadership. No, lurking does not count as networking. Do something that works for you. Remember, doing nothing provides nothing. Enough of the preaching on the value of networking. I found this great resource for you: 4 Reasons You Don’t Like Networking (and 4 Better Options You Will Like!) 
  7. Don’t be afraid to seek outside assistance.  Everyone goes through transitions in life. Being confronted with change often leaves people feeling stuck, confused, and frustrated. This makes it difficult to see the positive opportunities that lie ahead. At other times, you know something needs to change, but you don’t know what and you don’t know how to start to figure it out. Coaching will guide you as you set new goals. If a change is being forced on you, acoach will help you figure out your options.  

 In Closing 

 One of my favorite quotes is, “And in the end, its not the years in your life that count. It is the life in your years.”   

 Do you know what you are looking for in life? There are no right or wrong answers – only your answers.  I am here for you if you need a little help in figuring it out.   

 Until next week!  


Mary Patry
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach  
 480.393.0722 (AZ)
 [email protected]

Let’s Talk sponsored by an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry. 

Testing Your Effectiveness

Testing Your Effectiveness

Leaders do what they say they will do and expect the same from others. One of my mentors used to say, “You expect what you inspect.” Great leaders follow up and follow through. Great leaders test their communication effectiveness.   

Testing your communication effectiveness 

 Realizing that good communication is a 2-way street, we must take responsibility for our part. True feedback is priceless but only if we are open to listening with an open heart and mind. Whatever form of feedback you choose (i.e. verbal, mail, e-mail, etc.), if you don’t get the outcome you seek (from a “willing” recipient), the responsibility lies with the sender. The sender is YOU. Great leaders confirm, gain commitment, and solicit feedback to improve the process.   

About now I am hearing you ask, “How?”

You can ask   

Asking for true feedback from a subordinate or even a peer can be awkward and even unrealistic. Since that is the case, I teach my clients the Marshall Goldsmith FeedForward” approach to seeking input.    

In this feedforward exercise you are asked to choose to change one behavior that you believe will make a positive difference in your life, performance, happiness, or whatever is important to you. The next step is to describe this behavior to those closest to you, with an ask for one or two suggestions that they believe will enable a positive change in your behavior or outcome. Once you have asked, you stop talking and pause to listen. The pause may be uncomfortable, it is important to stop talking and truly listen. Listen to the feedback and simply say, “thank you. Do not debate, do not judge, do not critique, just listen and appreciate the feedback. The feedback is a gift, an input to your self-assessment, and contributes to your power to change behavior.   

I had the honor of learning this technique from Marshall himself at a coaching conference.   

Here is your opportunity to learn from him as well:     

Feedforward: Coaching for Behavioral Change  

For the analytical types, you may be wondering why FeedForward works. Unlike feedback, which has multiple detrimental consequences, feedforward creates positive emotions, fosters bonding, builds psychological safety, and promotes the elicitation and sharing of information.   

This technique also works for providing employee feedback. I love that FeedForward keeps your employee from dwelling on their failures and instead helps them see how they can improve outcomes in the future. No matter how much you diagnose the problem, we can’t change the past. Shifting to a FeedForward approach will show employees exactly what you expect, in addition to building a growth mindset.    

Check out this January 2018 HRB article to learnWhat having a “Growth Mindset” actually means.   It is too powerful of a concept to brush over.    


You can self-asses by having an honest dialogue with yourself. It is an effective approach if you are capable of being honest with yourself. It is a hard conversation to have. Trust that you won’t fool anyone (even yourself) if you are any less than totally honest.  

Here are key questions to get you started:   

  • Does my team deliver to my expectations?  If not -what role do I play in creating the gaps? 
  • Am I consistent in my actions? 
  • Does my talk match my walk?   
  • Do I talk more than I listen? 
  • Do I ask questions, or do I tell?  
  • Do I feel alone in the boat?  

 External Assessment  

You can look to external assessment tools. There are many tools available to help you to seek feedback beyond your self-assessment. The best assessment tools utilize a 360-degree approach.   

A 360-degree feedback (also known as multi-rater feedback, multi-source feedback, or multisource assessment) is a process that gathers feedback from your subordinates, colleagues, and executives comparing the results with your own self-evaluation. Your HR organization may have a company sponsored 360.  

am certified and utilize the Bates ExPI™ Assessment in my Executive Coaching and Advisory service offering. It is very powerful in providing guidance as it is the only research-based assessment that targets executive presence helping leaders to develop their presence and influence needed to lead teams, drive strategy, and make an impact.  

The Bates ExPI™ Assessment individual assessment measures the perceptions of others against your self-perceptions in order to identify strengths and gaps across all relevant facets of leadership that contribute to one’s presence and impact as a leader. The assessment is unique as it measures effectiveness against the Character, Substance and Style of the leader.   

I encourage you to learn more as it is by far the most unique and powerful executive assessment available.  

In Closing  

Those who study the human condition have found that “behavior that is recognized is behavior that gets repeated.” The team knows what their Leader, historically, has paid attention to and what has been “overlooked.”  As the Leader, change your behavior and you will change your results.    

I am here for you if you need a little help or want to learn more.   

Until next week!  


Mary Patry
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach  
 480.393.0722 (AZ)
 [email protected]

Let’s Talk sponsored by an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry. 

Building Your Communication Stage

Building Your Communication Stage

A communication strategy is the critical piece
to bridging the purpose and the implementation of your vision or any major change program. It is a written plan that details the stakeholders and how the message will reach its audience.   

An effective communication strategy starts with determining clear objectives that include strong motivation behind the message to be delivered. You can start by answering three questions:    

  1. WHY is it important to YOU as the IT Leader to inform your IT team and IT stakeholders of the IT Department Vision, Mission, Values and Principles as well as the overall IT strategy?   
  2. WHAT can they expect to see differently?   
  3. HOW will the change be implemented?  

Knowing the answers to these simple questions will articulate the intentions and outcomes of the strategy.  

To validate the assumption behind your answers as well as develop your communication strategy, my recommendation for a planning approach follows three phases

  1. Prepare 
  • Identify the gaps between the existing behaviors and capabilities and the future state desired outcomes 
  • Define your change management strategy and communication approach   
    • Who are your stakeholders?  What do they need to know?  
    • How will you present the strategy, vision, mission and values 
    • What activities will bring the changes to life for the stakeholders?  
    • What communication platforms will you use with which stakeholders (e.g. all-hands, 1:1 conversation, email messaging, recorded video)?   
  • Prepare your change management team 
    • Who is your change management team?  
    • What are their roles and responsibilities?  
    • How will you assure everyone is delivering the same message? 
      • Role playing and practice 
      • Frequently asked questions  
  • Develop your sponsorship model 
    • Is your upline executive on board and behind you?  
    • Who do you need to vet the change and communication plan in order to assure their support?  

2. Manage 

  • Develop change management plans 
  • Develop and execute action and implementation plans 

3. Reinforce 

  • Collect and analyze feedback  
  • Diagnose gaps and manage resistance 
  • Implement corrective actions  
  • Celebrate successes 

As you build and execute your communication strategy it is important to have a strong foundation to launch from, a willingness to trial, and to be open to adjusting your approach based on experience and feedback. With that I offer you tips from personal experience:   

  1.  People won’t just open up to those they don’t trust. You can’t force trust. You must earn it. You earn it by acting and thinking right. Be honest with yourself and acknowledge where you have gaps in trust with stakeholders.

  2.  Know what and who you need to personally communicate with and to whom you can delegate.  The what and who is amplified by how much change is planned or needs to occur. Take the time needed to assure all delegates are representing the collective message and not slanted with their own agenda. Bring the delegates together periodically, be it daily or weekly, to share the context and feedback from the conversations held. In other words, own the delivery even if someone is representing you. 
  3.  An essential part of good communication is listening. Never try to end your conversation if you don’t listen and understand what is being spoken. Have you ever been amazed at the memory of great leaders? It is because they listen. Listen well and respond properly. Listening skills are the foremost thing you must possess for IT communication skills development
  4.  Don’t jump to conclusions based on one person’s conversation. Listen to others before reacting.  Multiple inputs enable us to form the best opinion. 
  5. Once you have listened and comprehended what you have heard, take the time necessary to think and then plan what you want to say. There is no foul in thinking before you react. Wars start when one does not stop to think first. 
  6. Believe it or not, we are not always right. Sometimes we make mistakes. The important thing is to admit it and understand where your thinking may have gone wrong. Acknowledge it and adjust from there. 
  7. Train yourself to focus. It is becoming harder and harder due to multi-tasking and the overwhelming amount of information coming our way. We must try to never allow our minds to roam or dream while we are speaking or listening. Not only is it offensive, but you are guaranteed to miss the point. 
  8. Don’t be shy about asking someone to repeat, rephrase, or simply slow down. I will admit I am accent challenged. My brain does not decipher accents well. I have grown beyond pretending I understand when I don’t. It is not worth the risk of misunderstanding and it is rude.
  9. Make a point of observing yourself when you communicate with others. Take note of your body language. Body language impact on communication can be a whole session or two by itself.    Our facial expressions and body stance have a huge impact on how well we are heard and how comfortable people are with sharing feedback. If you stop to think about it, you will understand the concern. 

As I finish up today’s article, I realize that some may feel I am overstating the importance of building the stage to communicate your strategy purposefully. You may be thinking – why can’t we just execute and take it from there?  

You certainly can, and it may work. At the same time, you will miss the opportunity to assure awareness and expectations behind the vision and mission. More importantly, you will miss the opportunity to partner with your stakeholders and solicit their involvement in executing against your strategy.  

 I am here if you want to talk about it more.    

Until next week!  


Mary Patry
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach  
 480.393.0722 (AZ)
 [email protected]

Let’s Talk sponsored by an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry.