Last month I was in in San Francisco to catch the performance of my friend Anthony in the riotously funny play “Speakeasy.” I was early and so popped into one of Little Italy’s many cafes. I was jotting down ideas – for this newsletter actually – when a man walked in and went over to the owner. Because I was sitting close by I could overhear their remarkable exchange. The man said, “I’ve not been back here in seven years but seven years ago I needed a cup of coffee. I was eleven cents short. You told me not to worry and you gave me the coffee. I never properly thanked you but I’ve never forgotten you.” WHOA! This guy stunned (and I think confused) the owner. He certainly blew me away.
A week later I received a surprise via LinkedIn. I had a message from Emanuela, a UCLA Extension student from nine years ago. She thanked me for helping her learn how to set boundaries and be more confident in expressing her needs and viewpoints. The class helped her change the way she does business and she wanted me to know that she hasn’t forgotten me. Once again I was blown away!
Emanuela and café guy reminded me that a confident person knows, remembers and acknowledges those who help them. There can be no confidence without gratitude.
Denise is hurt because Marie hasn’t thanked her for all the strategic help she’s given her at work. Denise feels taken advantage of. Marie happens to be a client of mine and she is struggling with what she wants to do with her career. At the core of that struggle are her flimsy and wavering feelings of self-confidence.
Marie wants to move into an executive position because she wants to feel valued and relevant. However, she’s unable to recognize and so is unable to give thanks for the gifts and talents she’s developed over an impressive career. Her personal lack of gratitude is crippling her confidence – and preventing her from being a gracious colleague.
Here’s the great truth – confident people know how to value others. They know how to show appreciation.
In addition, they are willing to do the challenging work of shining a private light of recognition on their own particular talents and gifts. Confident people are willing to answer the question, “What are my strengths?” Not just skills but the strengths that undergird those skills. Gratitude lets them own their powers and from the gratitude comes the confidence to put those powers to good use.
One final illustration (for why I am fixated this month on gratitude):
Last Saturday I officiated a wedding where Nick, the groom, had big tears streaming down his face as he offered his personal vows to Teresa, his bride. I seldom see a man cry in public this way and, of course, the cliché is that a crying man is a weak man. But that wasn’t so with Nick. There was strength to his tears because they flowed with gratitude for the love of this woman. I have no doubt that Nick’s gratitude let him offer his vows from a place of confidence, loving what he knows of Teresa and trusting what he does not yet know.
A mindful “thank you” is the glue of all relationships – with self and others. Gratitude is one of the hallmarks of a confident person.
You know you are in the presence of confidence when you hear an emphatic, clear-eyed, strong-voiced “thank you!”
So the question I leave you with is – who can you thank you this day? This week? This month?