“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy
2015 was a huge year. Probably my biggest, most eventful, and memorable one yet. It was the year of weddings – my wife’s and mine, two of my best friends and their brides, plus a few others with friends of our family.
Each was so memorable in its own right – one had us singing along to Frank Sinatra atop a beautiful Tribeca rooftop in New York City, another had us watching sunsets over Santorini in Greece, another had us ringing in the New Year in Black Tie. It was truly an unforgettable year.
As much as I had looked forward to each wedding, I was especially excited about the opportunity to give a toast at two of them, including my own. And I was surprised by how quickly and easily I’d immersed myself in each toast, how much I enjoyed preparing each one, and how easy it was to deliver stories and anecdotes about the people I love and care about most. It felt like I had uncovered something I was truly passionate about – sharing with others how different people had impacted me in one way or another, expressing gratitude toward these people, what I had learned from them, and how I envisioned those experiences positively impacting their, or my, marriage in some way.
These days, much of the writing and presenting I do involves status reports and spreadsheets, so the toasts offered a refreshing outlet to share my own memories, reflections, feelings and gratitude towards those I cared about most. And because I was clearly so passionate about this topic and these people, the stories and their presentation had never been easier or more fun.
So, I thought, how might I tap into that experience more consistently? How might I find a way to celebrate those people who have positively impacted my life in an important way? And share those lessons I’ve found so useful with others, rather than internalizing them or capturing them in a personal journal that no one ever sees.
Each of our lives touches and impacts so many others, every single day. Yet we don’t celebrate enough those people who truly made a lasting difference on us, we don’t communicate to them enough just how they did it, why it resonated with us, and how we’re using it for the betterment of our lives in some way. And in a world that tends to reward drama, conflict and hate; a world filled with negativity, greed, and judgement, what a missed opportunity that is.
So much of this space will be used for just that – sharing stories, memories, gratitude and, most importantly, learning, from those who have influenced me in a meaningful, long-lasting way over the past 30+ years, and those who continue to do so today. Hopefully it’s something that my future son or daughter will find useful one day, and maybe one of you will be inspired to consider similar influences in your own life, and express that gratitude with those important people.
Some of these people I still see on a regular basis, some a few times a year, and some I may have interacted with once or in some cases not at all. But each of these people, I believe, has left me changed for the better, and well, what’s better than that?
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.”
– Simon Sinek,
From his 2009 book, “Start With Why”