Friday, November 25, 2022 – The Thanksgiving Week
This week, at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the Japanese national football team delivered a stunning 2-1 upset over heavily favored Germany. But as much as this installment of The Week could be about the near absolute likelihood of achieving whatever you believe you can do, or about how more-nimble Davids can prevail over too-slow and too-confident Goliaths seven days a week and twice on Sundays as long as they stick to the more-nimble playbook, it’s about neither of those things. It’s about gratitude and respect and how one begets the other.
See, after cheering on the Samarai Blue for 90 minutes, plus a bit of extra time, the Japanese fans stayed behind to help clean the stadium … not just the part they were sitting in, but the entire stadium. For Japanese football fans, Thanksgiving isn’t a once-a-year thing – it’s a 365 day a year thing. And because they are grateful for each day and everything in it, they likewise show respect for all they encounter; like football stadiums. It is not something the Japanese have to stop and think about. There are no dots to connect. It is reflexive … a common and simple truth: One will respect that which they are grateful for.
And that’s the point for the week.
Japanese football fans do not clean stadiums out of a sense of moral obligation or duty. They do so from a place of love and mutual respect – a place that is rooted in gratitude. The former simply flows from the latter. Easily. Without great thought or effort. Without gratitude, respect is nigh on impossible. Surely, one can behave in a respectful manner toward someone or something without having any sense of gratitude in their heart. But there is a world of difference between respect and being respectful.
True, caring leaders and those who fully buy into what they are trying to accomplish know these things. That’s why they wake up each day with grateful hearts and are careful, at any point in any day, when they feel that sense of gratitude slipping away, to restart their day – seeking to re-find that almost childlike sense of gratitude, and ensuring that it connects up with a spirit of respect for everybody and everything in their life. Because they do, people are more likely to want to follow them, and will more willingly engage in difficult tasks or invest long hours on their behalf. Think about your own experience. Recall the best boss, teacher, coach, leader, or superior of any other kind that you’ve had in your life. I’m willing to go out on a limb to bet you that this person was exceedingly grateful for whatever they had in their life.
And it was that spirit of gratitude that led them to first appreciate then respect you. And since, after all, because all of us want simply, and not much more than but, to be respected, those who lead with grateful hearts will, by the sheer business of odds, be apt to reach all of those around them, forming many-stranded cords of nearly unbreakable strength which become capable of accomplishing extraordinary things that exactly no one might ever have thought them capable.
But it all starts with one person … waking up with a grateful heart … behaving with respect for others … picking up the very first piece of trash.
So, be that person. Be thankful for all that you have in the world.