Just Say Thank you
Two things happened to me over the last three days that seemed, on the surface, to be quite different but turned out to be very similar.
On Saturday, my wife and I went to the movies. Not such an unusual thing. We try and get out together on a regular basis and being in Cape Town now (thank you), the evenings are so light that the days seem to go on forever. There is plenty of time for business and personal activities and, by the way, plenty of personal activities to do.
Anyway… The movie we went to see is taken from a favorite book, converted into a musical and then to a movie. The challenge with this progression is often that the conversion loses something at each stage leaving you with a parody of the original. In this case, however, I think the movie is far better than the original book and that is really saying something, but it is not the point of the is article to be a movie critic.
The movie is “Les Misérables” (pronounced with a French accent please) with Russell Crow, Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway (and many others) singing their way through a wonderful script. The first few minutes of the movie were a bit of a disappointment. I decided that Russell Crow should stick to acting and leave the singing to others more talented in this area of expertise, but getting beyond that I settled into the story I knew very well and became mesmerized by the spectacle of it all.
At the end of the movie (and this is the important bit) nearly 3 hours after it started, the audience sat still. Nobody got up from their seats as they normally would, in a hurry to get to a late supper. We all just sat there, still in the spell, bound to our seats. Many (including me) were blowing their noses and wiping their eyes from the intense emotion of the movie, but we all just sat there watching the credits. Then we all broke into rapturous applause. I cannot remember a movie where the audience clapped like that. Who were we applauding? Who were we thanking for putting on a magnificent movie?
I guess we just needed to say thank you for 3 hours of spectacular entertainment. The need to say thank you is inherent in all of us but so often we are embarrassed and just say, or, in this case, do nothing.
The day before going to the Movies I spent a day with a company helping them identify issues and improve interdepartmental understanding and communication. We were looking for ways we could grow the business, begin to understand each other’s challenges and get motivated for the coming year. By all accounts (and the evaluation forms) we had a good day but the success of the day will only be measured over time and how we do things differently to get the desired results.
One solution that came up time and time again was the understanding that we need to move from independence to interdependence. No department can work on it’s own and it is only through working together and understanding each other that we will progress. During the “Buzz Group” sessions the team came up with many ideas that will encourage this inter-departmental understanding including choosing a person in another department on a regular basis to receive an award for their help, using technical tools in one department to provide solutions to problems in another and looking for opportunities to say ‘thank you’ or ‘well done’ on a very regular basis to people outside your own department. Very often it is the ‘Warm Fuzzy’ stuff that we forget but it is also those same things that cost nothing but achieve a great deal.
Maybe we just need to look for every opportunity to say thank you.
As I write this small article I am reminded of something I did 18 years ago. I had just started this business and, like any other new business it was taking it’s time to produce an income. Much of that time was spent researching and studying to expand my awareness of a wide variety of disciplines. During this process I came across, and read avidly, Robert Fulghum.
Fulghum is a great author of small articles with big messages and I learnt a great deal from him and felt the need to say thank you. The internet was not up and running yet, there was no email and I had no idea how I could say thank you so I wrote him a letter, put it in an envelope with a stamp, wrote just his name on the front and put it in the post. I am sure the letter never arrived at the intended destination, and even if it did I am sure it would have been one of many thousands, but I just needed to put it out there that I was grateful for his wisdom.
If we are going to get on in business or even in our personal lives, we all need to say thank you more often. We need to look for opportunities to praise. We need to be grateful for the help of others. We need to be on a constant look out for opportunities to say “well done”. Sometimes we are embarrassed to say it. Sometimes we don’t actually feel it because we are having a bad day or because we are at fault. The measure of a man (or a woman) is how often they can get beyond themselves and say thank you.
Thank you for reading this article. I write articles so often and push them out in the internet ether but I never know who reads them so thanks for getting this far.