01 November 2016

A Season of Thanksgiving

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”  

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

If as someone has written "gratitude" is a state of being grateful while "thanksgiving" is an expression of that gratitude, then as we begin the holiday season I want to acknowledge the following:

Our teachers and professors

Those individuals who invested extra time in me, nurtured our intellectual development, curiosity, and creativity.   One stands out: Marian Bolhouse, my 1st grade teacher in Benton Harbor, Michigan, is an inspiration for much of our learning to this very day.   It was the first and last time I got all A's, or back then, +'s.   Too bad I didn't have a Miss Bolhouse every year.

Image result for image calvin britain school benton harbor mi
Calvin Britain School, Benton Harbor, Michigan (1954-1960)

College professors Gunnell Jordan, Joseph Nielson, Linford Marquart and Robert Starcher at Olivet Nazarene College combined character, academic achievement and critical thinking in the liberal arts tradition. 

Dr. Edgar H. Schein, Sloan Fellows Professor of Management Emeritus, MIT, for being a trusted shadow advisor.

Professors Gautam Kaul (finance), Scott DeRue and Maxim Sytch (leadership) from the University of Michigan are taking us to new levels of learning--online.

Our references

Our first real job in business was at General Motors.  That would not have been possible without a neighbor and friend of the family, Howard Johnson.  No, not that Howard Johnson.  This Howard was a general foreman at what is now known as Flint Metal, on Bristol Road in the city of the same name.

Most summer clerks who worked in plant offices were General Motors Institute students (Kettering University).   Or family members of management.  Neither applied to me.  But I could type.  Howard told my father he would do his best to get me an interview, and I was on my own from there.  He did follow up, and I got a job.  That's a lesson in the value of long-standing relationships and the strength of third-party referrals.  

Others would come along like Wendell and Jean Frerichs, Kankakee, Illinois, who also opened doors of opportunity.

All have motivated us to do the same whenever possible.

Our clients

Where would we be without our clients the past 37 years?   They are better to us than we deserve.  It's hard to state in words what it means to be allowed inside a business or nonprofit to work in some capacity.  The issue is trust--that they trust you with their thoughts, ideas, and plans for the future. 

It's a chance to contribute with the hope they get something from your advice which equals what you receive from their experiences.  Asking the right questions, exploring possibilities, and sharing what is learned from a wider community are a few ways in which an outsider can be of assistance.

A consultant sometimes proposes but a client always disposes.

I am grateful for engagements that have come our way as well as those that went in a different direction. There's a reason for what you have, and don't have. Understanding that truth comes only in retrospect.

Our readers

This is the 78th post since Strategist Blog was launched in 2009.  Thank you for making time to read and provide feedback.    

Our family

Nothing like having quality parents to set an example for your life.  My father, Russell Sr., was a pastor and theologian.  And our mother, Lydia, worked diligently inside and outside the home.  Both lived by faith--with compassionate hearts. 

Then there is the love and encouragement of my wife, Chris.  And a wonderful family.

Our support

From friends and neighbors. Doctors and lawyers.  Mentors and mechanics.  Even the kindness of strangers.  All make life and work possible.

Who has been helpful to you?  Do they know?

While not always easy to do, life's circumstances have taught us "to give thanks continuously," as a season without end.


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