Winning Words

Showing gratitude for life’s unlikely game-changers


Before we completely turn the page and allow last week’s Thanksgiving holiday to pass us by, I wanted to take a moment to thank every one of you who have done your very best to truly focus on what you have been most grateful for this past year. You may not think it matters, but I can assure you that your sense of gratitude and appreciation never goes unnoticed.

And as we roll into the new year, I firmly believe that it is our gratitude and appreciation for the three C’s that may still be ahead of us — Challenges, Chaos and Confusion — that will make the difference. I know that these don’t sound like “Winning Words,” but they are, and let me explain and why I see them as game-changers.

If we had to list all the challenges or difficulties that we have witnessed or that we are experiencing personally, we would have a very lengthy list. Collectively the list would seem insurmountable. So why would I intimate that a challenge is something we should be grateful for? It’s because in every challenge we see someone who emerges and goes out of their way to help someone else. We see people sharing God’s love, pursuing God’s will, doing God’s work, and doing it for all of God’s people. And that is a gratitude game-changer right there.

There is no doubt that we are in for more uncertainty in the coming months and the word “challenging” may wind up being an understatement. However, if we look at the word “challenge” differently, challenging ourselves to maintain our attitude of gratitude, this alone will go a long way toward changing the game and keeping us active in the game.

Now how can we possibly use chaos to help us get through what may be a difficult time? Well for some of us, we need the energy that only chaos can provide. We become alive, creative, and once we see the problem in front of us, we become inspired to find the solution. Chaos helps some of us to thrive instead of hide. While some need to feel the comfort and stability of normalcy, others of us contribute our greatest good to the situation when we are stimulated by the chaos, in order to see through the chaos. For me, I am super grateful for those around me who respond, even bringing a sense of calm, amidst the chaos.

Confusion is different than chaos. And confusion is good because it is when we are knocked off balance that we seem to learn the most. In a state of confusion, we try and sort things out, solve problems, and come up with elegant solutions. As we know that we cannot recognize light without the contrast of dark, similarly we cannot know what clarity is without feeling what it is to be confused. It’s in that aha moment, as things become abundantly clear, that we realize just how grateful we are for our initial confusion. And any type of personal growth is always a game-changer.

Typically, on Thanksgiving and around the holidays we think of the traditional responses that we give when asked what we are grateful for. We offer up things like our family, friends, health, and other blessings. And those are still wonderful responses. May we all be thankful for our health and the people in our lives as well. And maybe this year we can give a nod and express gratitude for the challenges, chaos and confusion surrounding us as we see each one as a game-changer that will help us to learn, grow and come together in whatever is headed our way.

How about you? How is your attitude of gratitude these days? Have you learned how to be grateful for the unexpected game-changers of life? I would love to hear your story at, and when we can find the elegant solutions in the challenges, the chaos and the confusion, it really will be a better than good week.

Michael Norton is the grateful CEO of, a personal and professional coach, and a consultant, trainer, encourager and motivator to businesses of all sizes.

Michael Norton


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