[Life Back West] Winter 2014 – “Thank You”

November was a blur but I came away with one distilled thought: It never hurts to give thanks for thanks.Thank YOU red grunge vintage seal isolated on white

The good deeds – mitzvahs if you speak Yiddish – directed my way were small to large but net-net, they were all very kind and very terrific.

The unfortunate expectation that some people have is that if you do good for someone else there is a chit, a payback note, that suggests the next favor is due you.

It would be great if karma worked that way but hunch is it doesn’t. The payback just might mean that no one does anything to help you and the real gift is that you figure out how to do something on your own.

In a set of weeks where the blessings were countless ranging from the smaller (a stranger chasing me to return a $20 that dropped out of my pocket) to the larger (a new corporate role as Head of Human Resources with an incredibly talented set of people at a client biotech company), my older sister Claudia’s stint taking care of me post-op with my new right hip (look everyone, combined with the artificial left hip it’s now stereo!).

My sister spent nine days taking time off from her life in Portland to do in San Francisco all the things I would normally have never asked anyone to do; helping get my 12-year old sonTraylor to school in the morning and pick him up in the afternoon, helping shop and clean house, walking the dog, and making sure that I actually did what I seldom do, take it a little easy.

The joke between us is that I’m the only person buttoned-down enough for her to trust with planning her funeral. The flip side? Claudia is the only person I’d want to help me post-op because her help is really help, not help that ends up adding to your workload.

So while the US Thanksgiving has come and gone, giving thanks really has no season or limit. And while it’s a world where the phrase “let me know if I can help” sometimes means “don’t count on me to go out of my way” – having someone offer help and follow through can be exceptional.

So to my big sister Claudia there’s two words that say it all: thank you.

Life Back West is an occasional set of writings focused on ways people, teams and organizations can be both more effective (doing the right thing) and more efficient (doing the right thing well). More about executive, career and team / leadership coaching services can be found at the “About J. Mike Smith and Back West, Inc.” sidebar or the “Hire Me” tab. You can also read an online interview with me at WhoHub.