Thanksgiving and Work

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One thing I like to do at work is to give my team members a bit of my perspective on things around holidays or significant events. Here’s my Thanksgiving message to the troops.

A wise man I once worked for, Tom Merta, had a simple yet profound view of life and work: “You can get anything you want in life by helping enough other people get what they want.”

When others demands seem overwhelming and pointless, when deadlines seem arbitrary, when commitments seem only burdens with no reward, I have to remind myself of the obvious simplicity of Tom’s motto. I have to remember—and it isn’t always easy—that my reward is having been asked.

We read, occasionally, about the problems of so-called empty nesters. When the last child goes off to college, when the sick parent goes on to his final reward, when the big project finally ends, the person who identified himself, often with regret, as the one who must bear that burden, carry that load, pick up those pieces feels not relief but remorse, loneliness, and worthlessness. For years they’ve prayed for the day when their efforts would pay off and the cross be lifted from their shoulders. When the cross is lifted, though, a piece of them goes with it. A big piece.

That missing piece is their sense of purpose. Our daily toils and struggles increase in direct proportion to others needs for our services. In helping others get what they want—even for monetary compensation—we are, ultimately, getting what we want.

On Thanksgiving, I will renew my commitment to Tom Merta’s motto. I will remind myself that Operations’ work requests, questions about why numbers don’t match, deadlines that interfere with holiday planning, and updating project plans for Vic are not burdens but gifts. They are stepping stones on the path to getting what I want. Without the opportunity to help others achieve their goals, I would have no hope of achieving, or even imagining, my own. I will give thanks for being asked, for in the asking, in the demands, in the standards, in the deadlines, someone validates my worth. Every time my phone rings or an e-mail hits my inbox, it’s a human being telling me that I have a purpose and that they have confidence that I can help them. How truly touching!

I hope each of you, too, finds an overwhelming sense of gratitude this weekend. I need you. The folks upstairs need you. Clients need you. Avoid the temptation to say, “yeah, but everyone is expendable. Anyone can be replaced.” That sentiment is certainly true, but that fact only increases the measure of your worth: of all the people in the world to whom *****, the Operations folks, or I could go, we’re going specifically to you. Your burdens, like mine, are great compliments—validations of our professional worth.

Finally, I give thanks for each of you. My life is richer for having come to ****** a month ago, for having met you, for having the opportunity to help you get what you want. I hope I have, and I pray I continue to do that. I give special thanks to Tim, Vic, and Walter for giving me this opportunity, not only to serve this team and this organization, but to meet people I might have otherwise missed.

Gratefully, Bill Hennessy