Gratitude & How It Shapes my Business
Here I am at 1120pm with 40 minutes to complete this contest from Sally. I wanted to write this on Thanksgiving, but to be honest, the entire holiday & weekend that followed got lost -in a very good way. Lost in family, good company, great times, and for the first time in a long time, a long period of relaxation. I guess "lost" isn't a good word. I have gratitude for the drive a few days of down time have left me feeling.
To me, gratitude is a perspective. It's an attitude that's sometimes obvious, but is becoming more obvious each day. Over the years, I have learned to be thankful for everything, and to never, ever sweat the "small stuff" (I've also learned that mostly everything, if looked at it in the right way, is "small stuff"). I can't write a story to explain my feeling of gratitude, but I can cite plenty of examples.
Gratitude was tonight, when I went to get groceries, and noticed a homeless woman sitting in the shadows. This was the first night in a long time when we've seen more than a passing rain storm here in CA (and even quickly-passing rainstorms have been sparse). It was cold by our standards, rainy, and here I was, able to leave a house, drive in a car, and pay for a car load of good food for the week. I bought the woman a meal from the Panera Bread in the same strip mall, and I felt grateful that I could.
Gratitude was aplenty on Thanksgiving. I was thankful for many of the same things I'm sure most others are - health, for both me and my family, our time together, and great food, but I also made sure to venture over to Newport Beach to catch the sunset. I thought of a story I recently read of a 100 year old woman who got to visit the ocean for the first time (if you haven't see it, it's worth a look). I realized - I know the smell of the ocean air. I know what the colors look like when the sun is setting behind Catalina Island - from the bright oranges and pinks, the deep reds to the pale purple of the snow capped mountains behind me. I know the chill of the Pacific when it first touches the skin, and the feel of the warm sand between my toes. Some people go a lifetime only imagining these things. I felt grateful.
A couple of years ago, my grandmother, who I am incredibly close with, had a stroke. We nearly lost her. I was so incredibly devastated, but thankfully after months of uncertainty, she made a nearly full recovery and we've been given more years with her. I'm grateful. Now every time we talk, or every time I let her beat me in Words with Friends (or if I'm going to be honest, every time she kicks my butt all on her own), I am grateful. For me, the perspective of being thankful for literally EVERYTHING I have is a mindset that's makes me so happy. If I didn't have a car, I'd be thankful to have a bike. If I didn't have a roof over my head, I'd be thankful to live in such a nice climate. If I didn't have food, I'd be thankful for strangers that would help. If I lost literally everything, I'd still have experiences that many go a full lifetime without. There is always, always something to be grateful for. Always something to smile about.
In business, I try to keep a similar perspective. How amazing is it, that out of every bank in the country, every loan officer at those banks, amidst a constant bombardment of advertising, people would choose to work with me and to refer me business. I have clients I've helped, and in turn, have been referred their brothers, sisters, cousins, coworkers, best friends, and even children. WOW.
In 2015, I need to get back to focusing on simply remembering that WOW. 2014 was a lot of noise with licensing, major changes (my first full year in CA), company growth (positive growth, but even that comes with growing pains), and trying to re-establish myself here. Admittedly, I probably let a lot of that noise interfere with the level of service I provided - I'm still getting referrals, and I still get thank you's, so I think I've done a good job - but GOOD isn't what I want. I want to do a job that shows my clients exactly how GRATEFUL I am for their business, for having them in my life, and for being allowed into theirs to help with one of the biggest financial decisions they'll make in their life.
Gratitude plays a role, big or small, in each & every day. For 2015, I'll be keeping a gratitude journal, and focusing on maintaining a perspective of gratitude. I won't be waiting for 2015, though. I've got a whole month before that, so I think I'll get started now : )