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The greatest gift we give is the gift of time… and over and over again I hear from many volunteers about the privilege it is to serve. But does that mean that a ‘thanks’ is still important.

A colleague recently shared a pamphlet with me regarding carers working with people with disabilities. For many years she’s been witness to a disabled relative who rarely expresses a thank-you for the support and help provided by both paid and family carers.

“It’s not that you offer care and support for a thank-you,” she explained. “But I am often baffled why the recipient of that care never acknowledges it.”

What she learned was that her relative probably never expresses thanks because doing so would be a daily reminder of the reliance on others. Or simply culturally was not in the habit of saying thank you. I remember a leader I knew saying “If I say thank you every day to my ‘staff’ then it will mean nothing.” (I don’t of course agree that scarcity makes a ‘thank-you’ more precious.)

Which completely reframes the picture. That gratitude in this instance is not about the recipient. That thankfulness comes from the opportunity to offer care and support. To give rather than receive. Often referred to as ‘the helper’s high’, it is the sense of satisfaction and comfort that is created from knowing you have done something to assist another human being. No one wants to be taken for granted – but volunteering is about what you give – NOT the thanks you may or may not receive.

  • In 2006, 5.2 million people (34%) of the Australian population aged 18 years and over, participated in voluntary work.
  • They contributed 713 million hours to the community, an average of 136 hours each per year or 2.6 hours per week.
  • The comparison of 1995, 2000 and 2006 data reveal that volunteer rates increased from 24% to 32% and to 35% between these three time points.

That’s not to say we should neglect being thankful to others, but it does offer an insight into the challenges of thankfulness. Sometimes you have to make a choice – in the instance of my colleague, gratitude is in the eye of the beholder.

What challenges have you faced with your gratitude practices? Remembering to be thankful in the tough times is one challenge that springs to mind.  Can you share any others?


This article originally appeared on LinkedIn as part of my Influencer collection

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  • Happiness:
Think less, Feel more;
Frown less, Smile more;
Judge less, Accept more;
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I’d be a squillionaire if I still had my stock options.

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After 10 years of corporate, I wanted to ‘do my own thing’. I started with freelance marketing.

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It seemed to work - new clients came from referrals.

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All my clients wanted was “more customers”, not complex branding plans.

SO I thought I’d build a brand of my own. Something to get them “more customers”. RedBalloon was born. The purpose? Give people amazing experiences.

16 years on, RB has delivered 3.8 million customers to 2000 small businesses.

Now, when I give talks, I always get the same question: “How did you build such a strong brand?” Funny how it comes full circle.

I can’t answer that with a time limit.

Though I think I found a way - an online course. “How to Build your Business Brand” - years of experience in one place (link in bio if interested). But, that’s not the point of this post.

If I stayed with Apple I’d be unbelievably wealthy.

Quitting was still the best thing I’ve ever done.

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All I ask you is this:

Trust yourself and never underestimate the power of brand.
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