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Reminded of the Good

May 19, 2020

I’ve written about cynicism in this space before.

We’ve discussed the dangers of cynicism and sentimentality and a natural bent toward negativity around the holidays. So before we dive into another blog about cynicism, I want to pull back to the curtain for you and explain why I write about certain themes more than others. 

It’s because I personally struggle with them. You may not need a reminder about the problem with cynicism today—but I do.

What’s ironic about my struggle with cynicism is that I’m naturally an optimistic person. I am a glass half-full kind of guy. Yet I often find myself going down the slippery slope of cynicism. I’m optimistic about the future; yet, I’m often cynical about my current reality. But I don’t want to be.

I want to be a student, not a cynic. I want to be curious, not critical.


Thankfully, when I start barreling down that slippery slope, I’m always stopped—rather abruptly—by something that reminds me of what’s true and important. This happened to me a few months ago.

Before life took a strange turn (thanks to COVID-19), I was in the middle of an unusually busy month. The craziest clip was an eight day span where I took thirteen flights! And one of these flights was to visit our great friends and incredible leaders at Clear Mountain Bank in West Virginia.

I want to be really honest. I was looking forward to spending time with this group of people, but I wasn’t exactly thrilled about traveling to West Virginia. For starters, there’s no easy way to get to them from Atlanta. So as you can imagine, tired from travel already, the cynic in me was feeling pretty negative about this trip. I left my family on a Sunday, flew into Pittsburgh that evening, immediately hopped in a rental car to drive two and half hours to get to our location late that night to be ready for our early morning meeting the next day. It was tough to get there, but I was already dreading my drive back to Pittsburgh and flight back home, only to leave for another conference the next day. I was spent.

I got there, and even though I was tired, it went well. Clear Mountain Bank rolled out their corporate values, I gave my talk as the keynote speaker, and I was ready to hit the road. But at the end of the event, they didn’t just dismiss their team. They ended their time together with a service project, and I watched this team work together to make care packages for people in their community. 

Two specific groups stand out in my memory. One of the groups made care packages for kids entering the foster care system. Most of these children go to school thinking they will go back home to a hostile environment, but instead they are taken from school to a new home and foster family. And they have nothing. These foster parents are given a small budget to get things their foster children need but not nearly enough to help them start a new life. 

Another group made care packages for families in a very low income area, and the organization they worked with told a story about the impact that these packages have on this community. One kid who received a package was so excited because he was going to have his own toothbrush and didn’t have to share one with a sibling any more.

In every season. it’s easy to get so caught up in the things going on in our lives. But during this time in particular, it’s especially easy to become self-absorbed, thinking about our own work, stress, health, and families. I’ve heard it said many times that this season is a “grind,” and I get it. I also feel the tendency to be cynical.  

You may not have the experience that I did, but let this post serve as a reminder that the work you do matters. The interaction you’re having with the customer or coworker has the potential to leave a profoundly positive impact on their lives.

Today, remind yourself of the good. Don’t wait to be lovingly slapped in the face with a reminder of what’s important—like my good friends from Clear Mountain Bank did for me. 

Look for it. Pursue it. Enjoy it. 

The best way to combat cynicism is with gratitude.


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