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Kenneth W. Keller: You have a lot to be thankful for

Inside Business

Posted: November 24, 2009 10:48 p.m.
Updated: November 25, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Tomorrow begins a weekend that starts with the national holiday of Thanksgiving. It has been a trying year - for many, perhaps the most challenging in a long time.

Surveys continue to show Americans as optimistic people; most believe the best days are ahead of us as a nation, society and a people.

On the other hand, owners of businesses can be pessimistic.

These are individuals who expect that things will go well and take disappointment hard.

Owners don't like to lose. They invest much more than money into the "baby" they give birth to as their future.

Like Churchill, they give "blood, sweat, toil and tears" and expect significant results, sometimes too quickly, for their effort.

An owner can be his or her own worst enemy. Often they don't ask for advice they need and when it is given, they often ignore it because it does not fit with their internal value system or what they want to do.

Owners, by nature, are eagles and eagles tend to soar alone. It is lonely at the top, regardless of the size of the organization.

There is a song from Journey called "Ask the Lonely" which has as its chorus:

"When you're feeling love's unfair, you just ask the lonely,
When you're lost in deep despair, you just ask the lonely."

The chorus today could be:

"When you're feeling life's unfair, ask those who've lost it all,
When you're lost in deep despair, ask those who've lost it all."

There are many reasons to be thankful and grateful, despite the trials and tribulations endured.

If you own a business, and you are still in business, be thankful. Many good people have lost their businesses and are in deep pain.

If you own a business, and are still in business, be grateful for the gift of persistence you have.

If you believe the future of your business is strong, give thanks. Not everyone is in the same place you are. Many don't see a future for their business.

If you are in good health, be thankful. The stress of the economy has weakened many individuals, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

If you are enjoying this holiday weekend with family and friends, celebrate - many are alone this weekend. Chances are some of the people you know are alone. It is not too late to reach out to them.

If you own a business, thank your family and friends for their support. They sacrifice at least as much as the owner.

If you own a business, thank your employees. Their hard work makes it possible to deliver quality products and services to the clients that pay your company.

If you own a business, thank your vendors. They provide you with the various goods and services so you can focus on taking care of your clients. They are partners in your success.

This weekend, ask yourself what you have learned since last Thanksgiving. Are you wiser? Have you gained more patience and more empathy? Are you listening more and talking less?

Are you paying attention to those vital few concerns that drive your business, and ignoring the distractions created by the trivial many?

What are you doing differently? What have you stopped doing? What have you started doing? What do you need to do that you haven't done before?

Be grateful that whatever you have done in the past, you have the ability and the opportunity to change today and create an even better future for yourself, your family, your employees and your vendors.

This weekend, give thanks for all that you have. You have a lot more to be thankful for than you think.

Ken Keller is president of Renaissance Executive Forums, which brings business owners together in facilitated peer advisory boards. His column represents his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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