Thanksgiving and Reputation
2008 has been a rough year for many and especially the last few months. I have many friends out of work on Wall Street and on main street. When these friends call for advice on how to handle the current crises in their lives I remind them that we are called to give thanks for not only the good things in our lives, but also for the crises in our lives. Some become humbled and want to know more and some look at me like I am crazy!
QUESTION: Do we really understand the true meaning of Thanksgiving, and how does it affect our reputations?
John was laid off at Lehman Brothers and has a beautiful and supportive wife, three kids in college, a large apartment in Manhattan and a beautiful home and large sailboat in the Hamptons. I am not worried as much about his finances as I am about his attitude toward learning from this experience.
Peter was an assistant manager at a department store on Long Island. The chain of stores recently closed and Peter, who is also married, but has a family of four young kids, is a bit concerned about his finances. He only has savings to last another month or so without a new job, but his attitude is right on! He is trying to learn as much as he can from the experience and appreciate all the blessings he still has in his life. He is spending more time with his family and also giving back as much as he can to his community, especially those in a worse position than himself: the homeless. Peter and his family will be helping to feed the homeless at a soup kitchen on Long Island this Thanksgiving. Peter is human. At times, he worries, but he tries to give his worries and troubles to God. He prays often. He speaks about his fears and concerns with his wife. He attends church on a regular basis. Peter is an excellent example for us all.
So what about John? Well, let’s just say that John’s identity was tied up mostly with his job. John is very angry he was laid off. What did I do when he asked for help? Well, I recently introduced John and his family to Peter and his family over brunch in Manhattan. Their wives got along swimmingly (something I had hoped for.) Peter is beginning to rub off on John. John is beginning to see how truly fortunate he has been and wants to give back for the first time in his life.
I told John before he begins giving back I thought it might be important for him to understand why it is so important for all of us to also give thanks for our pain, for our crises and for our troubles. I told him once he fully understood why he would really enjoy giving back, but only after giving thanks for both good and bad times.
We must remember Thanksgiving began as a tradition in our country only after the first settlers from England almost died. They struggled to survive and with the help of Squanto and other Native Americans, they learned to feed themselves in a harsh, cold winter environment where others perished. Times were hard. Much harder than the first settlers ever imagined. Sound familiar? Sounds like the conditions many in the world are now facing as winter is about to begin.
The difference between many of the Pilgrims and our society today is FAITH – theirs was strong and ours, at times, is spineless.
I received a call from my friend John last week. He was not angry for the first time in a long time.
“I think giving thanks is one of those things that is a purposeful decision that we have to do regardless of our circumstances,” he said. “If our thanksgiving or our joy depends on circumstances, it will fluctuate all the time. I know a lot of people have had a difficult time this year. Even when we don’t seem to have anything, we need to pay attention to the things we do have, instead of what we don’t have. I learned if we have our health, if we have our family, if we have a home, if we have our friends, if we have faith in God, we are rich!”
I had the biggest smile on my face. I told John how proud I was of him. I shared with him how our fathers had taught us some pretty backward ideas regarding dealing with our emotions, sharing our feelings with others, especially those we love and how I thought he was on the right track with so many areas of his life with this revelation. I told him, most importantly, I was proud of how he was embracing faith as a powerful life tool and how it will greatly improve his reputation, his marriage, his career and his relationship with his kids. He agreed and also began giving back as he also began to give thanks for the success and struggles in his life.
He thanked me, but I told him he was thanking the wrong person. I shared with him that I struggle with many areas in my own life and that I was only the messenger, but I told him to give all praise to God often and always.
Remember, do the right thing when your reputation is in crisis and seek the counsel of an experienced reputation management expert. It will be a major challenge, but ultimately the rewards of repairing your reputation will be great. Why? Because Your Reputation Is Everything!™