Thanksgiving — a time to reflect

November 27, 2008

The story goes that the first Thanksgiving Day was celebrated by the Plymouth Pilgrims.  The celebration was in honor of a bountiful harvest season, which meant enough food for people to survive and live well.  The Pilgrims were new to America and its land, climate, and agriculture.  The Native Indians, who have inhabited America for many generations, taught the Pilgrims how to farm and raise crops in this new land.  To show their gratitude to the Native Indians, the Pilgrims celebrated Thanksgiving.

The success each of us has witnessed and continues to do so in our life is the result of multiple things, of which our own efforts are just a small portion.  It’s the culmination of our efforts and those of the people who have come into our lives and touched us in some way or another.  Think back to your family, relatives, friends, school acquaintances, teachers, etc., who have helped shape your nature, personality, ideology, and philosophy towards life.  We’ve borrowed things, often times subconsciously, from people we’ve met in passing.  We’ve used ideas and examples from others that we can incorporate into our own lives.  We are who we are as a result of all this.

I speak for everyone when I…

… thank the basketball coach who kicked me off the team because I failed to follow instructions.  Thank you for teaching me the importance of putting the team ahead of my own goals.

… thank the relatives and family friends who continuously pushed me to stretch the limits of what I felt my boundaries were.  Thank you for teaching me never to settle (often at the cost of using examples of failures from your own lives).

… thank the then-annoying uncle who pushed me, unprepared, in front of an audience.  Thank you for teaching me that not every moment in life can be scripted and preplanned, and that speaking from your heart leads to more natural results than speaking from your mind.

… thank the parents who let their own wish lists get longer and longer so I could check off some items from my list.  Thank you for teaching me that sacrifice is always sweeter than self-indulgence.

… thank the family friend who involved me, when I was naive to the world of management, in reviewing the business plan for a multimillion dollar endeavor they were planning to fund.  Thank you for giving me the confidence that I can meaningfully participate in something that I felt was outside of my scope of capabilities.

… thank the third grade teacher who caught me cheating on an exam, and instead of reprimanding me in the typical manner, gave me a solution that would change me forever.  She told me to continue cheating on future exams, but to also increase the number of questions I solve on my own.  On each successive exam, I would do one more question on my own, and cheat on the remaining questions.  Eventually, I was able to solve all the questions on my own.  Thank you for planting the seeds to grow a lifelong student.

The list of people who have uniquely touched our lives can go on and on.  What’s important is that we reflect, say thanks, and reciprocate the act onto others during our lifetime.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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