“Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.” -Dalai Lama
In many ways, Thanksgiving is the greatest of holidays, a reminder of the debt of gratitude we owe to everyone and everything around us. It is always tempting to magnify our losses and minimize the ordinary, daily miracle. We long for big, outrageous fortunes and forget the small, mundane but truly astonishing gifts. One day of the year, however, is a reminder to contemplate the undeniably interdependent nature of our existence. How amazingly special is it when a client takes the time and effort to say “Thanks”? Being on the receiving or giving end of gratitude is a pretty special thing. Especially now.
Everything is connected. We don’t have to look far to find people and institutions deserving of our thanks. Every success we enjoy, every small achievement, is the result of an interplay of grace and circumstance.
Our connection to all otherness is why gratitude is accompanied by humility instead of pride. It’s a hint that the illusion of the separate nature of our existence is indeed an illusion.
“Thanksgiving” describes an act, not a contemplative state of mind. So perhaps this Thanksgiving would be a good day to engage in actively handing out a few compliments, showing some appreciation, engaging in some thanks. A few of the likely candidates for receiving your attentions would be the clients who loyally follow you, the service providers of all types who support you and the family and friends who believe in you even when you don’t.
So how often do we say “Thank You” to our clients? If we recognize the significance of those words, shouldn’t we be a bit more liberal with their use ourselves? Clients are the very reason our profession exists. Travel consulting is an almost purely service business. Yet, we sometimes feel as though we have done a client a favor when we work on their behalf, rather than the other way around!
In this season marking the end of the year, it adds to our character to take time to say, “Thanks for letting me assist you.” “Thank you for your business.” “Thank you for stopping in.” Demonstrate your appreciation in visible, memorable ways. Write letters or send postcards welcoming clients home and thanking them for doing business with you. Remember their birthdays. Send them flowers on their anniversary. It doesn’t have to be expensive – it just has to be sincere and profoundly grateful.
Gratitude is inherently humbling. Not one of us is truly self-made. We owe others debts with no ceiling, with no repayment expected. We are who we are as the result of a thousand graceful acts performed by others stretching back into our childhood and even beyond. Parents, teachers, co-workers, mentors, and total strangers have conspired to place you where you are.
Gratitude has the wonderful quality of out-shining less positive feelings. Any good thing we experience is the direct result of the graces of countless people from the beginning of time forward. Actively expressing a bit of thanks to just a few of those responsible for who we are is a small gesture, but one both necessary and welcome.
I, for one, am thankful not only for the blessings I enjoy, but for the wisdom of a universe that sometimes responds with a resounding NO.
To each of you… many thanks for reading this column and the other editorial features on this site. Travel Research Online turns a big 14 years old this week. It has been an interesting ride. Next year will bring some great changes as we make every effort to be true to our editorial mission “to enhance the professional life of the traditional travel agent.”
One final thought. The year is almost over. Not all of our friends and family made it with us. Some are there but in a different circumstance. Don’t let the year pass without love and prayer. Thanksgiving is a verb.
May you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday this week.
“I do therefore invite my fellow citizens … to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, … fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.” ~ Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 declaration setting Thanksgiving as a national holiday.