This article is part of the resource materials packet for Day 4 of the Good Success Thanksgiving Challenge. If you have not yet completed the assignment for Day 3, click here to read the resource materials and catch up.
Congratulations! You’re halfway to completing the Good Success Thanksgiving Challenge and receiving your prize for doing every assignment during our 7 Days of Thankfulness.
Hopefully at this point, the habit of thankfulness has started to really sink in. I know it has for me. I realize daily that I can never be too thankful for all the blessings in my life, and this challenge has really driven home for me that even when I think I’m full of gratitude, I’m not always effectively showing it. I have loved spending this intentional time working on demonstrating and communicating just how thankful I am for the people who are part of my life.
That being said, however, I must warn you that today’s challenge is going to be a real challenge for a lot of people. It definitely was for me. If you have not already checked in on the Good Success Facebook page to see today’s assignment, then here it is:
Thank someone who hurt or failed you.
Yep. You read that right. You need to thank someone who hurt or failed you because that failure made you a better person in the process. Dolly Parton has said on numerous occasions, “I am thankful for every one of my failures.” It’s not that she likes failing, but that after reflection, she realized those failures brought her to the level of success she enjoys today and made her the person she is today. Those failures help her understand where others are coming from when they are struggling and enable her to better help them in a lot of cases.
So, that is all well and good for Dolly Parton, but what about us?
It is hard to think about our failures, much less really dive into them, identify individuals who played a role in them, and then be grateful for those individuals instead of mad at them. I had a really hard time with this assignment, and I ultimately had to create a process for thinking about it in order to complete it successfully. I’ve written that process out for you here in case you are also having a hard time with Day 4 of the Good Success Thanksgiving Challenge.
Thinking About Who Hurt or Failed You
I do not like thinking about times people hurt or failed me. Not many people do. It just darkens your day and can really put a black cloud over everything.
“Tom! Why are you making us do this if it’s so unpleasant?” I’m sure you are thinking right now. Well, the reason is that the dark cloud will lift, permanently, once you are able to forgive, accept, and even be grateful for the experience and the person that played a part in it.
In fact, a recent study conducted jointly by researchers at the University of California at Davis and the University of Miami, people who developed a habit of daily, active gratitude were not only 25 percent happier than the control group; they were exercising more and behaving in healthier ways as well. In another study by Chinese researchers, higher levels of gratitude were linked to better sleep and lower levels of anxiety and depression. There are plenty of scientific reasons to be grateful and to get through today’s challenge even though it may be difficult.
Here’s what I had to do to make Day 4 happen for me:
First, I had to think about a failure. I wanted to make sure it was something that bothers me regularly so that I could turn it into something positive from its currently negative state. I decided to really dig into a decision I made last year to set up a team in my business in a certain way. To be perfectly blunt, that decision was a poor one. That particular structure was a failure, and I felt badly because I had failed.
However, I also felt badly because I felt that certain people had failed me. I felt like they did not do what I thought they said they were going to do. I felt like I had been wronged. That thought process quickly gathered some momentum, as thoughts about failure do, and soon I was thinking about other people who I felt had hurt me. I thought about lies people told about me. I thought about times people gave me tough love and I didn’t like it. I thought about a lot of negative stuff. It got pretty unpleasant, and I had to remind myself that every negative I was thinking was about to get turned into a positive before things got really dim!
I wrote down everyone that made “the list” while I was thinking about that failure last year, and then, I took a deep breath and I wrote each of them a little note. Some of them, I texted. Others I actually opted to mail. I made one phone call because I believed it was the best way to make sure that person heard me and understood I was grateful for them.
It was hard because I was still pretty annoyed with some of the people on my list, and I was pretty sure they might still be annoyed with me as well. I wasn’t sure they would want to discuss the topic at all, much less talk about how I felt about it. However, I know that the trail of real charity, real love, and real forgiveness involves forcing myself and no one else to be a better person. Part of being a better person is getting this habit of gratitude ingrained in my system and also letting past hurts and wrongs go through forgiveness and thankfulness. When I was done with those correspondences, I felt incredibly grateful for everything, and I also felt like I was really moving forward in my own personal growth.
What Goes into the Thank-You-for-Failing-Me Note?
As you might imagine, these little notes or texts are really personal and important. You don’t want to start a new fight with someone because they feel like you still blame them for a mistake they made a long time ago! Here is the sort of thing I like to write and, in my experience, it tends to get your point across without starting a conflict or opening up old wounds:
Hi [name]. I hope you’re doing well today. I have been thinking about [last year/week/month/etc.] and wanted to tell you thank you for failing me [in the given situation] because it helped me be a better man. From what we went through together, I learned to be a better person, and I’m able to help other people that were in our situation because of what we had to deal with then. I’m so thankful for what happened now, and I wanted to let you know.
You may want to substitute the word “fail” with another verb if they didn’t fail you. Maybe they hurt your feelings or lied to you. Whatever the right verbiage is, use that, but really emphasize that you are thankful for the learning that came from that experience, whatever it might have been.
Everybody Fails Sometimes
It’s important to realize and accept that everyone fails from time to time. We all make mistakes. We all hurt the people around us sometimes. I’m not saying you should stop trying to be kind or stop caring about whether you hurt someone; I’m just saying everyone does things wrong, and sometimes, we need to just forgive them and forgive ourselves as well.
Good Success is about getting through these learning experiences and these building experiences so that we can forgive others and ourselves and then keep building toward living the life of forgiveness, the life of love, the life of Good Success that we are meant to live.