Two years ago on Thanksgiving I was sitting at my dining room table with 20+ relatives—including my Mom (who is a spry 93), my wife and kids, siblings, cousins, nephews and nieces–and there might have been a stranger or two who wandered in because they heard the legend of my late Aunt Elaine’s sweet potato casserole (the recipe handed down to us, complete with marshmallows, pineapple, cherries and whatever extra gluten and sugar could be added).
At some point during the meal I looked around the table, feeling grateful for my family and their health–but noticed most (if not all) of the under 30 year olds were looking at their smart phones under the table.
I went out to the other room where my phone was, came back, and texted one of my nephews (the youngest of the “kids”):
“Could you please pass the salt?”
The response was exactly what I was looking for: First, I got to adequately season my stuffing immediately; and I also woke up the room to put down their phones and go for some lively banter instead.
And my Mom was the happiest of all since she doesn’t own a smart phone, doesn’t know how to text and can talk about anything and everything as long as someone will listen.
I know we might have lost some of that Thanksgiving glow since Thursday—it’s now that time of the four day weekend where we assume we can take a rest for another year from being thankful and grateful—but as I do every year, I want to remind you that being grateful on Thanksgiving should never be confused with New Year’s resolutions you never keep.
Unfortunately, “Thanksgiving resolutions” seem to last a day (until you push someone to the floor grabbing a sweater at Target which is half price for Black Friday); and New Year’s resolutions (e.g. to lose weight) seem to last around a week (two weeks if you’re lucky).
But I maintain that “being grateful all year ‘round” is way easier than losing 10 pounds by January 15th.
And since it’s already three days after Thanksgiving (and two after Black Friday), my guess is that you are already back to arguing with your spouse over some minutia, yelling at a colleague for being less than perfect or bickering with some other family member over nothing in particular …but hopefully you are at least communicating powerfully and not just via your smart phone.
Back on your phone, unfriending folks with different political views might be giving you satisfaction too (FYI—that’s also a sign that you are not being grateful).
Offline or online, I will make the assumption that your “Thanksgiving glow” has now worn off…maybe just a little or maybe completely.
Mine has not although I’m still sleepy from all the tryptophan (and that sweet potato pie didn’t help either in terms of weighing me down).
Regardless of where you are today, the timing of this post on the Sunday after Thanksgiving is intentional.
Simply put, being grateful is a 365-day proposition.
Another spin on gratefulness, beyond smooth communication with those we love, is inspired by Dan Sullivan, the top coach in the world for entrepreneurs.
Dan makes the distinction between a “gratefulness cycle” and an “envy cycle.”
I’ve shared this story below before and I hope you don’t mind if I tell it again…and given all the new members of my online family, many might have never heard it.
And as I begin, think about the distinction between “gratefulness” and “envy”…that’s the theme.
In 2014 I was one of the keynote speakers at the GKIC Info-Summit (one of the leading conferences for information marketers and direct marketers alike) which always features one of my heroes, Dan Kennedy.
When I received a standing ovation after my presentation, I was very surprised (and of course very grateful).
I couldn’t resist delivering a self-deprecating joke (which may have had more truth to it than I want to admit) given the fact that so many speakers at this particular conference speak and then sell products, services (or both) at the end of their presentations–and I did not.
I told them as they stood and applauded:
“Are you giving me a standing ovation because I delivered such incredible content or because I simply didn’t sell you anything after my speech?”
While I am a very effective direct marketer and dealmaker, “selling from the stage” is not even close to one of my core competencies.
But no one can take away that standing ovation…it was a huge win that day and something I was grateful for the next morning as well…and I am to this day.
That is far from the end of this story.
The next morning my good friend Robin Robins took the stage at Info-Summit.
Robin is the top guru/trainer/coach for IT professionals and a savvy marketer.
She proceeded to deliver a killer presentation about how to create sponsorships for live events–with power, integrity and maximum return–and then she “sold” (note quotation marks) a program for everyone so they could easily implement everything Robin had learned on the topic and what she taught that day.
Frankly, I saw it as more of a gift to the audience than something she was actually “selling.”
This goes back to a theme I talk about often, usually quoting Jay Abraham saying something like, “It’s your moral responsibility to give your audience what they need and what you have to offer.”
It seemed like she wasn’t even trying that hard…she was just being herself…and she sold more product than anyone at the conference by a wide margin.
I think it might have even been an all-time record for sales at Info-Summit…a conference known for crazy sales results from people who are known as the best salespeople from the stage.
People were lining up at the back table before she completed her presentation and before she even told them the price.
So what does this have to do with “gratefulness vs. envy?”
First of all, it would have been so easy for me to feel inferior to Robin, even envious.
Just 12 hours after I got a rousing standing ovation, speaking on the same stage she did, she sold materials to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Mine was a standing ovation while hers was a “running ovation” (to the back of the room for order forms, everyone with credit cards in hand).
But what I felt was anything but envy.
All I could think about was how grateful I was to be in Robin’s inner circle–someone she considers a peer—and someone she would share her wisdom with for the asking.
I couldn’t wait to give her a hug and tell her how proud I was to be her friend and how much I learned by watching her do what she did with such mastery.
Money may be how we keep score…but frankly, being aligned with the best, watching them excel and showing why they are the best, and then being able to learn from them, is what makes us rich.
I know that some of the other speakers (and folks in the audience who sell from the stage as part of their livelihood) were more envious of Robin’s windfall (i.e. the money) then they would ever like to admit.
Rather than being grateful that they were given a PhD in how to sell from the stage with total class, they felt competitive.
I could tell that some of them were even pissed off.
In fact, I was sitting next to a guy who was mumbling under his breath some version of “I could have done that” or “She’s not that good” etc.
However, anyone who went to being grateful for Robin’s crash course in selling (which she did with such grace) were rewarded in a much bigger way.
I know it sounds corny…but train yourself to try on and then think deeply about gratefulness whenever envy starts to creep into your consciousness.
If you seek out and spend time with game changers and folks achieving at a high level, I know it’s easy to feel envy.
The remedy when you feel like the dumbest person in the room is to think of yourself as “100% student.” That will hopefully keep the envy out and the gratefulness front and center.
I also recommend that when you are in rooms like this, have a rule:
No inferiority complexes allowed.
You would be astounded with the stories of “inferiority” I have heard from guests at the over 150 “Boardroom Dinners” I hosted over the years.
Those dinners attracted people who have the most impressive resumes and C.V.’s, people who are as accomplished as anyone in the world in their fields; yet they often mentioned to me that they didn’t feel they belonged.
It doesn’t matter how accomplished you are…anyone can fall into this envy trap.
And if you are feeling envy while sitting in a high level mastermind, at a dinner with experts, or anywhere where you feel you don’t belong, a requirement is to change your mindset quickly and turn your envy to gratefulness so you are not wasting your time or your money being there.
One trick to snap yourself out of it, while first seeing yourself as a student, is to realize you are not simply in a room of smart people (even if you think they are all smarter than you) but rather you are in a room of people (all peers) getting smarter together.
I can’t think of a room that’s better to hang out in.
Don’t let feelings of envy ruin it.
Getting a little corny again, it is all about being the best “you”—and to only associate with the best “them”–and then be grateful that you can contribute to any room that will have you.
Especially if it’s a room about achievement and success.
Dan Sullivan calls this an abundance mindset rather than a scarcity mindset.
From Eleanor Roosevelt to sum this up:
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
Being present and communicative (and not bringing your smart phone to the dinner table) was lesson number one; and not falling into an envy cycle, which starts with being grateful, is lesson number two.
And those two lessons are for every day throughout the year…and if you like, double down on both for Thanksgiving.
Let’s check in on that a year from now.