Adam Steele was planning for his annual blue highways tour, but he decided to make this year’s tour a little different. He had four key employees who had begun to exhibit bad attitudes. He asked them to join him, thinking that a month together would help with bonding and identify what could be done to reenergize his colleagues.
They were on the way to tour some of the blue highways in the southeast when tornados devastated a number of small towns in what had become known as tornado alley. Adam diverted the blue highways tour to see how they could help.
Arriving at the first town, they were shocked by what they saw. Adam made a decision: “I wanted each of us to adopt a community and help it through the first few weeks of trauma. I’ll authorize the resources you need. At the end of each day, let’s have a Zoom call to share our progress with each other.”
Adam then continued to deliver his colleagues to towns along the blue highway that were severely impacted by the tornado. He took the last stop. Soon there were caravans of supplies on their way to the communities from the company.
The Zoom calls became the bonding experience that Adam had hoped for. As each person shared their stories of loss and recovery, Adam could sense a change in attitude. There was no whining or complaining. There was a sense of deep satisfaction in what they were able to do.
As their time began to come to a close, each of the colleagues began to tell wonderful stories of how grateful the community had been. But then the conversation changed when one of them said: “I’m so grateful that I was able to do this. I’m different now. I have a new outlook on life. My faith in my values has been restored.” These sentiments were soon shared by others. Everyone had tears in their eyes.
Gratitude is a shared experience between giver and receiver. The person who is the recipient of the gratitude often has as much (or more) to gain from the experience as those who are the receiver.
As Adam reflected on the trip and what he learned, he began to think about how important it is to create opportunities to earn and learn from gratitude experiences. He wanted everyone that worked in his company to embrace the giving and learning from gratitude as a personal value.
* * *
“One can never pay in gratitude; one can only pay ‘in kind’ somewhere else in life.”
– Anne Morrow Lindbergh (author)