Bright spots

We’ve all seen the paradox. We know some people who thrive despite having experienced challenging or negative life events. And we know others who, despite seemingly having every advantage in life, fail miserably.

Bright spots, a phrase coined by Chip Heath and Dan Heath in Switch represent unexpected areas of success in an otherwise bland or bleak environment. They are important for two reasons.

  1. Bright spots give us hope and encourage us that things can be different
  2. Bright spots point to small, but critical things we can do differently that result in significant change

beauty emerges against circumstancesI like to imagine that big changes require, well, big changes. Lots of brouhaha, money, and time. And since I don’t have lots of extra money and time and am unwilling to make a big brouhaha, clearly that change just isn’t gonna happen. Or I can easily tell myself.

But the reality is that small consistent changes can create huge impact.

A few years ago, I began to notice some people at work who appeared healthier than I felt at the time. Some were really into exercise, but most weren’t. In fact, many didn’t go to the gym at all. Hmmm. So, perhaps they were organic, vegetarian, micronutrient, spinach shake types. Again, nope. They would easily join me for nachos and beer after work. So what did they do?

They brought their lunch.

Well, that seems pretty simple.

Or perhaps not. How did they find time to pack a lunch? I couldn’t seem to make it happen with my chaotic morning schedule.

So I asked them for their secrets.

Turns out, everyone I spoke with made their lunch the night before, not in the morning. And several of them actually made larger meals on the weekend and then ‘banked’ leftovers in the fridge or freezer. They convinced me that it actually took much less time than running out for lunch every day – and with the time gained during the day, they could go for a walk, read, catch up on emails, or leave a bit earlier.

I gave it a try. It worked for me. And I still bring my lunch most days. Over the years, this has probably saved me thousands of calories, hundreds of dollars, and days of time.

But this isn’t really a story about lunch. It is a story about finding the small things that can shift us from ‘getting by’ to ‘thriving’. For you, it may not be lunch – it may be something completely different. But I encourage you to look around at the people who seem to be doing better in that area. Remember, the ‘bright spots’ are not the extreme superstars – they are the otherwise normal people. What are the small things they consistently do? Feel free to ‘borrow’ their ideas and take them for a test run in your own life!

After all, thriving is more about small things done often than big things done rarely.

maryjoburkhard.com #culturethriving

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