As we approach Thanksgiving, everyone is talking about the importance of gratitude. But lately, I’ve been thinking about how we are often selective about when and to whom we express our gratitude. We tend to express it when it’s easy to express it, and we give it to those it is easy to give it to.
The sermon at my church this past Sunday was about the human tendency to show favoritism, and why we need to beware of it. The sermon brought up in my mind a very clear memory of a moment at my first newsroom internship, and I share this moment with you because I believe we can all learn from it:
I was shadowing a senior reporter in a large newsroom. I noticed that when he walked into the newsroom, people smiled and waved at him — he was clearly a respected reporter. As he sat down at his desk, he greeted every person around him and asked, “How are you?” Unlike most people, he actually waited for a response instead of walking away — even though he was on deadline. The newsroom janitor happened to be in the room, and he reached around the reporter for the trash can at his desk. The senior reporter turned to him and with the same tone and smile, he asked the janitor how he was, and then thanked him. As the janitor moved down the line of desks, I noticed that no other reporter greeted the janitor.
Yes, these reporters were all on deadline, but one reporter saw beyond that. He knew that every person — no matter how high up in the company — deserved gratitude and respect.
And this isn’t just about looking like a good person or pleasing everyone around you. When you open yourself up to all people, and not just to the ones like you, you open the door for many connections. If you choose to ignore one person because you don’t think they’re good enough or smart enough, you could be missing out on what that person has to offer.
So, this week, show gratitude to everyone in your company, from the CEO to the intern. Show gratitude to everyone in your life, from your enemies to your loved ones. All play a part in where you are today and have helped make you who you are today. Push yourself to express gratitude even when it doesn’t come naturally, and you’ll grow.