When I was thirty, I imagined myself at fifty, in the impossibly far-in-the-future date of 2020. I imagined a grey haired, slower, and much wiser version of my hard-charging thirty year old self. I anticipated that I would have it all figured out by then: happy life, happy family, amazing career, basking in success.

Much of that has happened: I found the love of my life not long after that reflection and we have been together for eighteen years. I AM greyer, slower, and many things hurt more often. I’ve had some amazing successes and have a thriving leadership business.

A lot has gone unfulfilled: I had cancer at the age of 35 and that meant I could never have children. I never got to my ridiculous goal weight and spent a lot of time in angst over that. I was never as fast, as accomplished, as rich, as self assured, as good a performer as some of my peers. I had some pretty challenging work experiences where I realised later I was a contributor, not just a victim, in events. That one hurt! Disappointments and frustrations have snapped at me all this time.

And yet here I am, still breathing, fifty years on from my first breath.

If the clock ticks over and we are magically meant to have accrued wisdom, then I find myself still learning, still thirsty for understanding. Over the years I’ve shared what I’ve learned, given what I knew at the time. Some of it has helped others and that is amazing!

A Gratitude Rant seems more appropriate to me than sharing a list of insights. Those are all in my books, podcasts, articles. For now, here is what I acknowledge:

I am grateful for YOU.

Each week I craft and send you some writing designed to help ease the burden in your world. To give you an insight, a framework, or a story that can open your perspective. You may not read every word of every message, but you’re here still with me. That makes it worthwhile. Thank you for reading my stuff, I am glad it has sometimes helped.

I am grateful for my family. 

Mum, Dad, my siblings – Vicky, Alex, Kath, my grandparents, and all those generations that came before us. My family has put up with me in all of my worst times, my emotional nuttiness, and my silliness too. 

I am grateful for my clients.

I have a special privilege to work with leaders and their teams. They share their challenges and their victories. They are making the world better, bit by bit. I love that I can be of service, and am honoured they pick me, out of all the other amazing beings, to assist them in their quest.

I am grateful for my team.

I have been fortunate to find people who want to work with me and do an outstanding job. Abby and Louise – thank you so much! And to my past staff – Krystal, Bianca, Lisa – thanks for supporting me too.  It’s helped me get my newsletters, podcasts, books, and workshops to more people. I am not the best boss. But I’m trying.

I am grateful for friends and mentors.

Life and leadership is not a solo activity! I love the people I’ve shared moments with. Friends on canoe trips in Canada. Adventures across Australia with my Outward Bound colleagues. Running many kilometers with my running friends. My Thought Leader buddies who’ve groaned and stretched and leaned into growth alongside me. My neighbours who love a drink and a laugh.

I am grateful for Earth and Nature.

There is nothing more spectacular than the natural world. Every day I marvel at the orchid I haven’t killed on my windowsill, my ageing chicken who continues day after day to peck and scratch up the garden, and the stunning awesomeness of plants and trees who turn dirt into something that breathes air.

I am grateful for Rob, my honey.

He keeps me grounded. He laughs at me (with me?) and quotes my leadership thoughts back at me in mostly unhelpful moments. He gives me feedback on my newsletters (which I know he skims, looking for mentions of him. Ha! Got you honey!) He gives me advice on my next book topics. His strong recommendation is that I write on dragons and wizards. But mostly he makes life fun.

On the balance of things I’ve led an incredible life, in small moments and big ones, and for this gift of life, I am deeply grateful. Here’s to many more wonderful moments, layering like sand, in the dunes of time. May we all find gratitude in their drift.


Related Articles:

What is the best way to learn to be a better leader?

Boundless Leadership: Cultivate celebrations that matter

Be Better: How to Break the Blocks In Your Leadership



  • Zoë Routh

    Australia's Leadership Expert, Author of Book of the Year "People Stuff" l Speaker l Mentor l Strategist

    Zoë Routh is one of Australia’s leading experts on people stuff - the stuff that gets in our way of producing results, and the stuff that lights us up. She works with the growers, makers, builders to make people stuff fun and practical.

    Zoë is the author of four books: Composure - How centered leaders make the biggest impact,  Moments - Leadership when it matters most, Loyalty - Stop unwanted staff turnover, boost engagement, and build lifelong advocates, and People Stuff - Beyond Personalities: An advanced handbook for leadership. People Stuff was awarded Book of the Year 2020 by the Smart WFM Australian Business Book Awards.

    Zoë is also the producer of The Zoë Routh Leadership Podcast.