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| May 5, 2015

by Jim Bruce

Today’s Tuesday Reading, Gratitude, is a reflection written earlier this year by Jaime Thompson.  Jaime supports IT in the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota and is a participant in the Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) there.
What I am feeling this week is gratitude and how I identified it was through a story my husband told me the night of our first ELP session.  I was half listening at first but then something really hit me about his story, some of the most positive people I know are genuinely grateful and appreciative for what is all around them.  
My husband Damian owns a small new media company and part of what they do involves making videos for their clients.  Damian hires out most of talent for the shoots like a camera person, sound person, grip and so on.  Recently he made a video where he hired a guy who could shoot and edit the video.  We’ll call him Ron because that’s his name.  Ron took the job on short notice, showed up engaged and was super grateful for the work.  Damian’s company had some money in the bank so as a thank you he decided not wait the customary 30-60 days from invoice date to pay Ron.  He was inspired to pay “in real time” so he cut Ron a check right away.  
A few weeks later Damian and Ron got together to see a Timberwolves game.  Ron took this as an opportunity to tell Damian how unexpected it was to get paid early and it was really important to him to take him out for a beer as a thank you.  He went on to explain that his family was experiencing some financially tough times and they were sad they could not send their teenage son to science camp, they couldn’t quite afford it.  Ron went on to say that because he worked this unexpected extra job and was paid early they changed their decision and his son is now going to attend camp.  Ron insisted over and over again to buy Damian a drink.  Damian saw it in Ron’s eyes that it really meant a lot to him to do this, to share his story and to do something for Damian in return.  Ron was deeply grateful and it wasn’t the beer that was important, it was the ceremony of showing his gratitude that was important, even if he couldn’t really afford it.
In telling this story to me Damian also pointed out that he sometimes spends a lot of money with other people/companies without so much as a thank you, it is just operating standards, business as normal, an expected transaction with little to no personality to it.  The impact was not lost on him what type of person and company he’d rather forge relationships and partnerships with.  Ron is the type of person he’d bring back to the team any day.
I don’t think this story is anything we haven’t heard or experienced before.  Money is a big motivator for gratitude, but that is not really my point.  Ron exhibited humility in taking the time to tell Damian his story and expressed gratitude for their relationship.  These are two very powerful emotions and in a way I see being humble is also a form of being grateful.  
Jim Dezieck has asked the people he is coaching in this program to commit to a single practice for 28 days to help us master the discipline of a daily practice.  I got to thinking about how I’ll tackle this mindfully and with intention.  For myself I’m going to add a personal practice to the assignment and start a gratitude or happiness journal.  The point of the exercise for me will be to be reflective of my environment and experiences so that I can consciously maintain that bounce I so need each day.  We’ll see how it goes, I’m sure there is an app for that! 
Jamie’s observations are important for all of us.  Take the time as you go through each day to say thank you and show your gratitude for those unexpected “gifts” that come along your way.  And, consider keeping a journal to record these occasions.  Reflecting on them can really be helpful when you are going through a difficult time.
Have a great week.  .  .  .     jim