Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Be Grateful!

Thank you notes are one of the “little things” so few people take the time to do. We all know we should express our attitude of gratitude with a thank you note whenever someone does something nice for us, whether it’s a gift we received, a party we were invited to, a kindness someone extended to us. But how about a thank you note to someone who didn’t do something nice for us?  

That was a life lesson I learned many years ago—a lesson that has lasted well over four decades! Here’s what happened …

I was 20 years old and had recently completed a two-year course in building construction when I applied for a much-needed job as an architectural draftsman. The interviewer was the architect himself, Richard C. Baehr. He was very kind, thoughtful and, oh, so nice—I could already picture in my mind how wonderful it was going to be working for him!

We had a great conversation, but sadly, as the interview ended, Mr. Baehr looked at me and said, “Joel, you’re a fine young man—but you’ve had no experience and you’re too young right now. You won’t be getting the job.”  He then said that he was going to hire the seasoned pro he’d interviewed the day before.

I was so utterly disappointed I could hardly think. When I got home I told my mother what happened. In her wisdom, here’s what she suggested I do: “Why don’t you write Mr. Baehr a thank you note, and tell him how much you appreciated his time and honesty, and then you can say how much you still want the job, and if things don’t work out with the experienced draftsman, you’d be thrilled to take the job on a trial basis and prove to him that you can do the work.”

Oh, mothers are so wise, if only we listened to them more often!

And you guessed it —I wrote that letter of gratitude. Two weeks later Dick Baehr called me back. The “experienced” guy didn’t work out, and he was giving me the job. It turned out to be a wonderful, longterm relationship with Dick and his architectural firm, all because my mom taught me a great life lesson—write thank you notes—even to those who haven’t given you what you wanted or expected!

Who in your life needs to know about your attitude of gratitude? If you have an employer; how about starting out with him or her? Let them know how much you appreciate your job. If you work for yourself, how about a note to one of your employees, clients or customers? Or your minister?  Priest?  Rabbi? A teacher?  A neighbor? A loved one?

You can be grateful both for what you have—and don’t have! What counts is being grateful—and writing those thank you notes!