I can no other answer make but thanks,
And thanks; and ever thanks.
THANKSGIVING is a time of family, friends, food, frivolity, and fun.
But why not turn this Thanksgiving into “Thinks-giving” by giving some thought to those who have had a positive influence on your life and/or your career…and then letting them know that.
In this fast-paced, always-on, often-superficial social media world we live in these days, it seems that so many people treat many of their relationships as disposable – rather than as something enduring and valuable to be nurtured and cherished. It becomes all about “What can I GET FROM this relationship?”…as opposed to “What can I GIVE TO it?” With the constant focus on building our number of Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections, and Facebook Friends, it is so easy to lose sight of the people behind the profiles. And as we become consumed with increasing the quantity of our connections, what often suffers is the quality of the actual relationships that those numbers represent.
In a former Thanksgiving post, “Better to Receive: The Benefits of Being More Open to Feedback,” I talked about how, as the saying goes, “Feedback is a gift.” So what better time than Thanksgiving to seek out opportunities to give of ourselves by offering positive and constructive feedback, expressing appreciation, providinnng acknowledgement, and demonstrating recognition for the people in our lives who matter. It takes so little time and effort; all it takes, really, is a little thought.
Thanking and Thinking
If you look up the origin of the word “thank” you’ll find that it is closely related to the word “think.” To thank someone is, basically, to reward them by verbally expressing your thoughts – and feelings – of gratitude.
So with that definition in mind, and in the spirit of this season’s emphasis on the giving of “thanks,” here are seven simple ways that we might think about thanking those who have earned our appreciation over the course of the past year…or, even, over the course of our lives:
● Send a thank you note – out of the blue – to a former boss, mentor, or teacher (or to anyone) who made a difference in your life. I recently reconnected with Mr. Patterson & Mr. Ballentine, two high school English teachers who forever changed my life by not only instilling in me a love of literature, but, more importantly, instilling in me the confidence I needed to realize my potential. The author, Dale Carnegie, once said that the words we say to people WE may forget two minutes later…but THEY may remember for the rest of their lives. Similarly, all these years later, these two generous, caring, and inspirational teachers still serve as a guiding light in my personal life and in my career. And it was my small gift to them to get back in touch with each of them recently, after all these years, to let them know that. So who is someone that you’ve often thought of thanking, what’s been keeping you from doing so, and wouldn’t now be the perfect time?
● Write someone a glowing recommendation. While clicking an Endorsement for someone on LinkedIn is a thoughtful act (although what’s the deal with people you’ve never met endorsing you for skills you’ve never had?), a thousand times more meaningful is writing someone a personal recommendation. It takes five to ten minutes to do, so why not take an hour to write recommendations for five people whose performance you would like to personally and publicly acknowledge. Think about someone who went “ABCD” (“Above and Beyond the Call of Duty”) to make a difference…and let them – and the world – know that you noticed. It would take so little to make somebody’s day.
● Write a 5-star Amazon review for a book that made an impact on you. A while back I wrote a review for one of the most impactful and valuable books I ever read, “The Naked Presenter” by Garr Reynolds (author, also, of the equally amazing “Presentation Zen”). A few days after posting my review (with absolutely no expectation of return), I received this short and sweet note from the author: “Hi Todd. Thanks so much for the great review on Amazon! Wonderful! Really appreciate the kind words and glad the book helped. All the best from here in Japan, -g”. That totally unexpected note (all the way from Japan!) from someone I’ve admired and whose work has had such a tremendous impact and influence on me, was something I truly valued and cherished. It took him, probably, thirty seconds to write that note, but the fact that he took those thirty seconds to do so spoke volumes about him as a person, and meant so much to me.
● Tweet, Re-tweet, Like, Forward, and Share. Look for opportunities to spread the word and share the work of others. Whether on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or via good old-fashioned email, take the time and make the effort to be a knowledge-sharer. Not only will you be developing your reputation as a “thought-leader,” but you will be benefitting others. It always feels nice when you get a note from someone that simply says, “Saw this and thought of you.” So next time you read an article or blog post that reminds you of someone, why not take two seconds to forward it to them. One thing to keep in mind, though: As I once heard someone say, there’s a difference between dripping on people and drowning them. So just be cautious not to over-do it, lest your messages either get ignored, lost in the clutter, or be seen as trying too hard. Often, in this regard, less is more.
● Catch people doing something right. There are so many people around us who we can easily take for granted (employees, colleagues, clients, vendors, the mailman, your doorman, the guy at the deli who makes your sandwiches) who we may only notice when they screw up. But why not take the opportunity to thank them just for doing what they do…and for doing it well. There’s something to be said for people who just go about their business every day with a positive and enthusiastic and helpful attitude. As that so often gets overlooked and taken for granted, why not be the one to step up and acknowledge it. Especially when someone goes, as mentioned previously, “ABCD” (Above and Beyond the Call of Duty”). As a boss, yes, you can wait til end-of-year performance review time to tell someone they’re doing a good job…but you can also choose to do it in the moment. And, yes, you will be giving the doorman his holiday tip next month, but how much more valuable would it be for you to say a big “Thank you for all you do!” Think about it: Which has more impact…giving someone a dozen roses on Valentine’s Day when it’s expected…or any other day of the year, when it’s not?
● Be a connector. If you have a couple of great people in your circle who you like and respect, perhaps they might enjoy and benefit from meeting one another! So send an email to both of them with each other’s contact info and say, “I think the two of you will hit it off.” (Note: Unless you have their pre-authorization to do so, you probably want to get their permission first.) But being a connector is a great way to show people that you appreciate and value them, and that you care enough to recommend them to others. Keep in mind, though, that they may end up NOT hitting it off, as not every introduction is a “love connection” – but that’s ok. You gave it some thought, put yourself out there, and made the effort. And it’s the thought that counts. Not every swing is going to be a home run, and striking out occasionally is just part of the game. Most people will just appreciate the fact that you thought of them.
● Pay it forward. If someone does something nice and thoughtful for you (e.g., any of the things mentioned above), in addition to thanking them, let it trigger in you a reminder to do something nice for someone else. Very often, what goes around comes around. But even if it doesn’t, so what! It’s still the right thing and the nice thing to do…and that’s an end in itself. So be thoughtful and give generously. If you do so with no expectation of return, you’ll never be disappointed…and, who knows, you may end up being unexpectedly rewarded for your generosity somewhere down the road. And if so, you can consider that a bonus.
There are many other ways of practicing “Thinks-giving” beyond the seven ways mentioned above. If you have other suggestions, please feel free to share them…and I thank you in advance for doing so.
Lastly, as you think about putting your year-end holiday gift list together, remember that the gift of appreciation is one that costs the least, and yet is often worth the most. And, unlike your financial budget, which may be fixed, your “budget of gratitude” is unlimited and abundant, so why not spread the wealth…not just at Thanksgiving time, but throughout the year.
Thankfully, the opportunity to commit random acts of “thinks-giving” is never out of season.