The Joys of Giving Thanks When Times Are Tough


November 26, 2008

by Marshall Goldsmith

This Thanksgiving is very different from those we have experienced in the past several years.

In ways both large and small, good folks around the world have been hurt by the current economic crisis. Our stock portfolios have diminished. Our houses are not as valuable as they used to be. The net worth of many people has been cut in half. Planned retirements are being postponed indefinitely. Good people are losing their jobs through no fault of their own. The pressure of paying back student loans without a good job is kicking in.

Nevertheless, I find that many of the people I encounter in my travels around the world are meeting these challenges and viewing the changes in positive ways. Following are some comments from my friends, partners, and clients that show how we can still be thankful in hard times:

– “There is no use dwelling on the past. What is done is done. In hindsight, would I have done some things differently? Of course! I cannot change that now. I wake up every morning and take one day at a time. I am focused on creating a great future. I am grateful for the opportunities that I have.”

– “In a strange way, my recent ‘disasters’ have actually made me more thankful. I was lost in the frenzy of striving for more, more, more. I have given up a lot of material worth. I now realize that what I have lost doesn’t matter that much. I still have my health, friends, and family. I am grateful for the fact that I now understand what really matters.”

– “I have a good job. I used to gripe about all kinds of minor annoyances at work. There are a lot of people out there who are much worse off than I am. Now I am very grateful to have a steady income and health care benefits. All the little things that bothered me so much don’t matter anymore.”

– “I have more time now. I am using it to invest in my future. I am doing what I always said I was going to do–but never quite got around to doing. I am grateful that I have a chance to do what I should have been doing all along.”

– “I love my work. As an independent contractor, I have had to cut my fees. Who cares? I still love what I am doing and am grateful to be doing what I love.”

– “My company has lost almost all of its value and has been bought. I am going to be working for another company now. They used to be our competitors. We used to make such as big deal out of ‘beating’ them. I now realize that this is just a game. I am going to do my best to make a contribution, but I am no longer going to ‘worship the Corporate God’–and put so much of my soul in the hands of people who are just trying to make money. I am going to take responsibility for my own life–and live my own values. I am grateful to have this realization while I am in my 40s.”

– “My family is closer than ever. Some of us aren’t doing so well. We are doing whatever we can to help each other. I am grateful that we love each other and support each other when times are tough.”

Personally, I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to communicate with you, my readers. Hundreds of thousands of people have read “Marshall & Friends.” Many have sent me wonderful comments and e-mails. I have learned so much from you, and I am very grateful for your interest in what I write.

“Great is the need of the student to learn–far greater is the need of the teacher to teach.” As a teacher, trying to help you out–even a little–adds value to my life. Thank you!