Gratitude in tough times: Your advertising agency may have taken a beating but it is still yours.

November 25, 2009

Beyond the low-hanging fruit…

As we approach Thanksgiving, I’m compelled to say a little something about gratitude. After all, gratitude is the very definition of giving thanks. Many of us (myself included) often experience a lapse in gratitude. We get caught up in the business of work and the mostly silly dramas that govern our lives.

I once heard a parable that I’d like to paraphrase here:

Every day a group of men set out to forage in the savannah by their village. They ventured far in order to get to the forest and its abundance of resources. Half way existed a lone, large tree in which they took a break to rest and eat lunch. “A shame this tree,” one man said. “It has no fruit for eating.” The others agreed. “And its wood isn’t suitable for building either.”

The men failed to realize the great benefit the tree provided. In fact, the old tree was a refuge. Though dead and barren, it provided shelter from the noonday sun without which their journey would have been infinitely more treacherous. This critical benefit was lost on the men.

I recall a company meeting at my previous agency. We’d had a tough year. Morale was low. The employees were skeptical about their agency’s future. Many used the setting as a forum to voice their complaints: Management was inept, they cried. Our clients are bound to mediocrity. Woe is us!

During my turn to speak I told the story about the old tree. Though our agency was, in fact, beleaguered I wanted us to appreciate all that we had: jobs, community and a place to voice our grievances freely and without fear of reparations.

In some respects I was talking to myself. I shared many of my fellow’s misgivings but I wanted healing words. Not apathetic ones. We’d had plenty of those already. Change was needed. And change would come. But on that day I needed gratitude. I worked for one of the greatest advertising agencies in the world. It had been hobbled but it was still there. Despite our weakened position, so were we.

That first winter for the pilgrims was a brutal one. Many did not make it. Yet, a precious few did. With help from the Indians, they not only survived the second winter; they thrived. Despite their many hardships the frail community held a great feast. The rest is history.

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2 Responses to “Gratitude in tough times: Your advertising agency may have taken a beating but it is still yours.”

  1. This year, it seems all the more appropriate to be reminded of what we have to be thankful for. And it’s amazing how a little bit of gratitude is just what it takes to get over a bad case of the have-nots.

    With turkey in belly and smile on face, I’ll be sharing the tree parable at the table this year. Thanks Steffan.

  2. SRP said

    Thank you, Mike.
    Don’t spill gravy on your tie!
    G’bless you and yours.

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