As I do more work with positive professional development and the idea of working from a place of opportunities, gratitude and learning, I've been doing some thinking about the roles that different people have played in my life.
From a purely practical point of view, being aware of who has contributed to my professional growth is a way for me to tend to my network--thanking and doing things for the people who have made contributions to my development. On a more spiritual/emotional level, though I think that recogizing the people who have contributed to your growth is a way to get back in touch with more positive emotions, especially when I think of some of the people who, at the time, seemed like purely negative influences.
I think, for example, of a former business partner. He was difficult and had severe mental health issues that only became apparent to me after a year of working together. We had an ugly parting of the ways and for a time, I looked upon that experience as purely negative.
But in retrospect, I'm grateful for the opportunity to have worked with him. I had to shore up the places in our business where he was weak and from that I learned new skills and made new connections. I also learned much about myself and what I needed to be looking for in future business associates. Now, with the passage of years, I'm grateful to him for providing me with experiences that pushed and challenged me. They helped me grow in ways I might not have otherwise grown.
As you look at your own career path, think about all the people with whom you've come into contact. Some were probably sources of inspiration, motivation and positive feelings, so identifying and thanking them is easier. But what about your more "negative" experiences--the thorns in your side, the colleagues who were a consistent source of annoyance, the boss who criticized all that you did? They influenced who you are now too. What did you learn from them? How did they help you grow? Take some time to experience gratitude for those experiences and how they transformed you. If you can, reach out and thank those people for the learning you have gained. It can be a powerful tool for turning around any lingering negativity.