1. Lessons In Leadership

Being Grateful for Unmerited Gifts

Thanksgiving is not about “what” but “who.”

I hope I carry a spirit of gratitude with me throughout the year, but as an American, this feeling comes into focus as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday.  I feel like the luckiest person on the planet, because I am constantly surprised by the number of people that I have affection for – specifically, people I’m privileged to work alongside of. I once thought this only happened to young people for whom the world was still new, exciting and ripe for conquest. I guess, for me, the world IS still new and exciting, and so are the human beings who people it. What a blessing.

Some background: When I was in my twenties and thirties, I was lucky enough to rub elbows with the smart people who were exploring the nascent technology known as the World Wide Web (LANS and WANS). I worked with the founders of Java; I helped those who were first to modernize publishing and ignite the eventual digital revolution. These people were changing the world forever, and I fell in love with their intellect, their integrity and their unmitigated energy. Perhaps it was just a young man’s perspective — from what felt like the pinnacle of my career — but I assumed I would never again work with such inspirational people.

How nice to be proven wrong, time and again. Across multiple career changes and chance encounters, I find myself surrounded today by an amazing number of bright, generous, witty and inspirational people. And I have come to look forward to the next meaningful encounter. Mind you, I am not egotistical enough to think this is something I earned, or that I am a human magnet for the best sort of people. So, I can’t help but wonder if it is just my own unmerited luck, or if other people have succumbed to the habit of walking past unopened gifts — turning away from unexplored relationships that might have been life-changing. The thing is, some of my favorite people don’t agree with me on “important” issues like politics, religion and lifestyle. None of that matters, because we connect on a higher (and deeper) level.

Whether you celebrate an American Thanksgiving or not, I wish you a life warmed and enriched by a diverse array of amazing people who share your workplace and heart space. This November 23 will find me thinking, with appreciation, about all who have blessed my life.

Thank you.

~ bph