I had no idea when I logged on to LinkedIn this Monday that I would be so profoundly moved by a simple question. But the question David North asked about showing gratitude for those who inspire us – the question that led to my post on Monday – it has stayed with me all week long.
Then today, a thought smacked me in the head, that I just cannot seem to shake.
Infinite gratitude for all things past.
Infinite service to all things present.
Infinite responsibility for all things future.
So here is the thought that attacked me today and will not let go. It came in two parts:
1) To live a life of gratitude, we would be grateful to everything and everyone in our lives. That would mean infinite gratitude to our clients, patrons, program participants.
Fair enough. But now the head-smacking question:
2) Gratitude for what? Why are we grateful to the people who walk through our doors? If it weren’t for our clients… what? What words fill in that blank?
That’s when it hit me: Probably the top-of-mind, without-thinking-about-it answer for most of us would be something related to our own or our organization’s survival.
• If it weren’t for the patients at our clinic, I wouldn’t have a job.
• If it weren’t for the patrons at our theater, we couldn’t keep the doors open.
• If it weren’t for the clients at our food bank, I would be on Food Stamps myself!
Tell the truth – when you saw the question, “Why are you grateful to your clients?” was that your instinctive response? (If not, please share what was!).
Talk about an eye-opener! If we are to truly be of service to our clients, is this really the emotional base from which we are providing that service? How does that color the service we provide?
And because we are indeed creating our clients’ future – simply because the cause-and-effect of everything we do creates the future, just as the past created today – what future is that creating for those clients, for ourselves, for our communities? Is it the future we had hoped to create?
So, dear readers, what do you think? If we set aside the clients-as-job-security answer for a moment and dig deeper – how would you answer the question:
Why are you grateful to the people who use your services?
If it weren’t for them… what?
And what might that spirit of gratitude change about your work?