Tomorrow (November 26th) is Thanksgiving here in the United States. I get that depending on your viewpoint, it is not necessarily a good day, so it’s not a holiday without some controversy. That is not the intent of this blog post. Personally, Thanksgiving has never been a big deal for me. My birthday sometimes falls on Thanksgiving, but that’s another day I generally don’t really think about either. I want to focus on the “thanks” part of Thanksgiving, because I think so much common courtesy has been lost in our daily interactions. I used to work retail, so a simple “please” and “thank you” goes a long way, but there are a lot of self-centered people out there. Consulting and teaching are, at their core, customer service jobs. I never forget that.
A few months back, I write a blog post entitled “In the End – Life (and IT) Lessons from Rush.” I also wrote another one entitled “August Anniversaries.” One of the things I’ve never shied away from on this blog is how my friends and family matter to me or writing about difficult subjects (see the blog post “Reality Is Always Different” ). All of our experiences in life, including the people we interact with, form who we are. Unfortunately, some of those interactions are negative, and we were reminded of that yesterday in my good friend Wendy Pastrick’s blog post up on the PASS website. Ugh.
There are people, times, and events that remind us that there’s no need to be (pardon my “French”) a douchebag in life and that everything you do can, and arguably, will have an impact on others. I saw a link to this Youtube video where Fred Rogers (look at the link if you do not know who he is) was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame here in the USA. Please take a few minutes and watch it. By all accounts, Fred Rogers was the same man on screen and off. I really love his message here because we can apply it to what we do. Sure, it’s a speech about TV, but it’s more than that. How gutsy was it for him to take a whole audience and made them reflect for ten seconds? That was an amazing, powerful moment.
Over the years, but moreso recently, I’ve had a lot of people come up to me wholly unsolicited told me that I inspired their career or got them started down a path based on something I did – be it one of my books (yeah, yeah ..), a precon, a session at a conference … you get the idea. That is incredibly humbling, but at the same time, gratifying. It’s nice to know what I do has a positive impact on others. I try to give back – a topic I’ve addressed elsewhere (see the life lessons blog post linked above). I always want to give 100% and challenge myself and others to be better.
At the same time, I also know that I’m not infallible and sometimes even when I give my best, or have the right intention, things don’t always work out in one way or another. It’s how you deal with failures or disappointment and how you learn from it that helps you improve both as a person and a professional. If you don’t know adversity, how can you know success? I know I’m much more thankful and appreciative of what I have and where I am because I know what the other side looks like. Like everyone reading this blog post, I have my moments and bad days, but I try not to let it show when that happens. We’re human, after all.
Here’s a story for you. Around this time last year, we were supposed to wrap up an engagement with a series of meetings onsite at a client. The night before the meetings, I got a call from my Mom telling me not to worry but my Dad was in the hospital. Don’t worry indeed. Luckily, Max was with me and he handled everything. The client understood, and because the call came in so late, I couldn’t fly out until the next morning. Not going to NJ was not an option. I was also scheduled to go to Japan on vacation a few weeks later but would have cancelled all that if I had to. Luckily, my Dad was OK and I would up being able to go on vacation (but still checked in, of course), but it’s these moments that matter. I won’t be spending Thanksgiving with my folks this year, but will see them soon. The point here is that despite what could have been a really bad time, I could rely on Max for which I am forever grateful. He’s a great business partner and friend. Other people would not be as generous.
This Thanksgiving, not only am I thankful for my parents (of course) who are still here and leading busy lives (I know some folks who sadly lost a parent this year) and have always supported me, but also Max and my other friends and family. Most importantly, I am thankful for all of you. You make what I do worth it. All of the behind the scenes hours I put into the labs for a precon, class, or presentation do not go wasted when I get the wonderful comments and scores back that I did from this year’s PASS Summit. I truly appreciate it when people choose to do things like spend their training budge/own money as well as time (be it an hour, a day, or a four-day class) with me because there are many choices out there. I do not take any of it for granted. (Shameless plug – take advantage of our Black Friday training sale for 2016.)
Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, take a few moments and do what Mr. Rogers asked that audience to do: reflect on those who have helped you become who you are.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. See you on the other side.