How to be Grateful for EVERY Person in Your Life (Even the Difficult Ones)

How to be Grateful for EVERY Person in Your Life (Even the Difficult Ones)

my-grateful-listThe Lesson:  Want to be more grateful for those in your personal and work life?  Learn the four personality styles using easy to remember Birds – The Eagle, The Parrot, The Dove and the Owl.  Appreciate and value what each style brings to your life.

The Story:  I love the holiday season – families and friends getting together to enjoy delicious food, re-connecting with one another and carrying out new and old traditions.  I am big on traditions.  A tradition I am especially fond of is one my husband started a few years ago.   Before tucking our daughter into bed each night, he asks her, what are you grateful for?  When she was young, the answers ranged anywhere from blankie to her nightlight.  Over the years, her answers have changed as her comprehension of gratitude and understanding of others in her world has increased.  But one thing has remained the same.  My daughter is grateful for many things and many people.  She never names just one, always several – mommy and daddy, her brother, her grandparents, her teachers and so on.  These people are all very different, provide her with different things, and mean something different to her, which got me thinking….

What if we, as adults, could feel gratitude for EVERY person in our lives, even those different than us?  Even the difficult people?  Although at times we seem to be miles apart with different beliefs and values, I do believe we are not that different.  Instead, we are driven by different things in life.  We go about creating successful, happy lives for ourselves and families in different ways.  How we got that way doesn’t really matter.  Instead, it’s understanding who we are today that can make the difference.  If we understood what each of us needed to be successful and happy, could we understand one another better?  Could we appreciate and value each other more?  It’s something to think about.  The holidays are not only a good time for food, laughter, and tradition but also a time to look inward and reflect.

In my world, I try to figure out my difficult people by understanding how they are hardwired.  I look at their personality.  And like you, my life is crazy busy with work, family and taking care of myself, so I gravitate towards models that are easy to use, which is why I use birds to identify personality.  You heard me right, BIRDS.  It’s called Take Flight with DISC.  I can’t remember what I had for dinner last night, but I can easily remember 4 bird types and I’m sure you can too.  SO, before you go to your turkey dinner and re-arrange the name cards so you don’t have to sit next to Uncle Bill, read my quick overview below and perhaps you will find one of these BIRDS describes the people in your life – at home and work.  Perhaps you will see them in a different light.  Perhaps you will recall a time when they helped you be better, not by being the same as you but by being different.


  • THE EAGLE. This person is decisive, direct and fast-paced.  They are focused on the end results, not the details.  They are risk takers, swift decision-makers and take charge leaders.  At work, you may find them taking over your meeting or cutting you off as you dive into the research behind your proposal.  They decide after a short discussion and very little research to expand into a new market.  They organize large groups of people quickly and direct them into action.  They hate it when you tell them “we have to submit the proposal this way” or “that is how we have always done it”.  They don’t like rules.  At home, they make a lot of the decisions.   They know their way is the right way.  You start to believe it too.  When driving, they take the shortest, fastest route… they may even ignore the detour sign that clearly says “Road Closed” and take it anyway.   They have no problem engaging in conflict with the server who forgot to put the dressing on the side and then jumping right back into your dinner discussion as if nothing happened.  Why they drive us crazy. They tend not to think about the impacts on people because they are so focused on the end result. They don’t need or like a lot of details and chit chat, so they can appear rash and impersonal.  When they get stressed, they can get aggressive and insensitive and their words can HURT.  Sometimes, we feel like they are steamrolling over us and our ideas.   Why we should be grateful for them. People with an Eagle style light a fire under us.  They get us to take action.  They set the bar high forcing us to constantly improve and think bigger and better.  They keep us laser-focused on the end result to ensure we achieve our goals and don’t get sidetracked.  They also force us to fight and stand up for ourselves.  The Eagles in my life have made me improve my game, develop thicker skin (hey, it’s not personal), and take more risks.
  • THE PARROT. This person is a creative, big-picture thinker.  They are focused on people and building relationships.  They are bubbly, enthusiastic storytellers who are always looking on the bright side even when things really stink.  They are inspired and energized by the new and different.  At work, you will find them at the coffee station talking to everyone who comes by.  Don’t expect them to be back at their desk anytime soon.  You will find them in meetings saying, “what if we tried this or that?”.  They think outside the box.  At home, they will be the family champion and director of fun.   If anyone tries to mess with a family member, they are going to be there backing them up.    And that family road trip that should have taken 2 days, took 4, because they decided to explore a few towns along the way.  Why they drive us crazy?  They come up with some crazy, chase my tail kind of ideas when you have plenty of REAL work to do.  They ignore the details of the plan because, hey, someone else will worry about them and they never had a plan to begin with!  They like gadgets and cool toys, but don’t expect them to put them together.  They don’t DO directions.  Instead, they FEEL their way through it which at times can result in extra screws…. Your kitchen ceiling caves in due to a leak and they say, well at least we weren’t in the house, meanwhile you are crying in your cheerios.  They start LOTS of things but they don’t finish all of them.  Why we should be grateful for them. They build lasting relationships with others.  They are connectors of teams, businesses, families, and people.  When the going gets rough, they inspire everyone to keep their heads held high and continue marching.  They inspire us to color outside the lines in all different colors like when we were little.  Remember when the grass was blue?  Was it REALLY that bad?  The parrots in my life have kept me positive and open to trying new things. They motivated me to start my own business, meet new people, and set some REALLY big, crazy goals that I am super excited about.
  • THE DOVE. This person is the peacemaker, mediator, and all-star team player.  They appreciate the process and status quo because it ensures consistency.  They are great listeners, empathizers, and feelers.  At work, they are the ones you seek out to share your good news or vent over bad news because you know they REALLY care.   They are the ones who will stay late with you to stuff all 500 hundred envelopes for your big event the next morning.   They are content to be on the sidelines keeping the back engine running while you catch all the glory on stage.  At home, they are the ones who will mediate and try to find common ground (how about those Eagles!) between Uncle Bill, the conservative, and Aunt Susan, the liberal.  And when the conversation gets too heated, they will be the person hiding in the pantry “just looking for extra napkins”.  They keep the daily inner-workings of your family running smoothly from breakfast to bedtime.  They encourage your kids to work together and share.  Why they drive us crazy?  They say “yes” to everything to the point where they are overworked.  They are not always honest with how they REALLY feel especially if it goes against the team, so we don’t know they are overworked.  They keep their feelings bottled up inside until one day they explode because they are overworked!  Got a great new idea that you are ready to implement now?  Don’t expect them to be excited.  They don’t like change and could seriously derail your plans using their quiet influence with others.  They don’t engage in conflict, even though it could be REALLY healthy for everyone.  Why we should be grateful for them. They genuinely care about you and others. Your happiness is important to them.  They are the glue that keeps us coexisting in peace.  They are always willing to pitch in when you need them and they don’t mind getting their hands dirty.  They keep things running smoothly.  The doves in my life have become some of my closest friends.  They remind me to always stop and think about others and the impacts.  They inspire me to be a team player.
  • THE OWL. This person is the voice of reason, the logical thinker, and researcher.  They care about accuracy. They take the time to do things the right way.  At work, you find them alone at their desk gathering intel so they can build a business case for a new product or strategy.  They are in meetings asking why, how and when.  They create detailed processes to ensure everything runs according to plan.  At home, things run like clockwork because they have systems in place for laundry, meals, and bedtime.  The bills are paid on time and the kids’ new bikes are put together according to the instructions without any pieces leftover.  Not sure where to go for the holidays?  They research all the travel sites and create a pros and cons list for you to review… in power point.  Why they drive us crazy?  They never break from a process.  They are adamant – there really is only ONE way to fold towels!  They take our exciting ideas and poke holes in them with their countless questions.  They can be, overly critical and perfectionists when they get stressed.    By the time they come to a decision, the opportunity is long gone!  They took too long doing their research.  Lastly, they follow the rules EXACTLY and ALL THE TIME.   Why we should be grateful for them.  You know whatever you task them with will be right because they do their homework.  They can easily organize chaos into logical systems and processes that we all can follow.   They aren’t afraid to get messy in the details.  And hey, they just make sense!  The owls in my life have reminded me that process and logic are good and necessary.  They have allowed me to embrace my strengths and face my weaknesses.

What birds do you have sitting at your dinner table?  What birds do you have on your team at work?  Can you recognize the different styles?  Although it may be easier to spend time with those who are exactly like us, we wouldn’t be better off.  Diversity is the key to thriving.  Want to better understand your styles and the styles of others in your life and improve your communications and relationships?  Contact to learn how with DISC.

Happy Thanksgiving!