Giving Opportunities for Gratitude

Nov 19, 2023
Giving opportunities for gratitude, image of a woman's hands making a heart shape

As a writer, it's hard not to think about the topic of gratitude as Thanksgiving approaches. With so many benefits and virtually no downsides, gratitude, as a practice, is hard to beat. This year, inspired by own recent experiences, I want to share a different angle, one I hope resonates with you. 


The Eye-Opening Denver Weekend

At the end of September, I spoke at an HR event where I met some incredible people. One in particular, a woman named Nora Burns, made a big impact. 

Nora is a professional speaker from Denver and the only other person I know who takes new experiences as seriously as I do. We met by zoom before the event then had dinner while she was in town. She was so open about the speaking industry (one I've dabbled in but only recently pushed fully into), imbuing mentorship, wisdom, and advice. I was so grateful for that time together. 

Somehow, between our dinner and Nora's lunch with another new-to-the-industry woman named Barb (who, turns out, is practically my neighbor), a plan was hatched for Barb and me to go to Denver for a weekend to learn more about the biz. 

Two weeks ago, Barb and I headed to the airport to catch a super early flight for what turned out to be an absolutely incredible experience. Nora had prepared a detailed itinerary and roped 8 other phenomenal professional speakers in to impart their knowledge as well. 

I'll admit, there was a quiet skepticism in my mind. Why is she doing this? This is a lot of time and energy to give to two people she barely knows. This is a great opportunity for me, but what is she getting out of it?

Now, I was raised with Southern manners, and I know better than to look a gift horse in the mouth. Still, it took a bit for it fully sink in that Nora's motives were truly just a paying it forward kind of thing. She shared her belief that it's important for women to mentor other women and that pouring into others, especially when they are receptive to it and worth it (meaning they're going to utilize the gift being given), is valuable in and of itself.

I was overwhelmed with gratitude

That someone would see potential in me and want to nurture it like that. That someone would be willing to dedicate their time, energy, and effort in such a real and concentrated way. That someone would welcome me into their tribe, with open arms and full support, after knowing me such a short time. 

Grateful doesn't begin to cut it.

That strangers, these other women who had never met me, would also be willing to show up and share the way they did, with no expectation of anything in return. 

Wow. I am humbled.

More than once during that weekend and many times since, I've questioned how I got so lucky. 


Giving Gratitude Opportunities to Others

Being on the receiving end of such generosity got me thinking. 

There are really good people all around us. We're so bombarded with gloom and doom and transactional interactions - people trying to sell us or get from us - that it's easy to lose sight of that. There are truly giving people out there, willing to pour into others, and we're all better off for it. 

I realized that I am not only grateful for the Denver weekend itself, but also for the opportunity to be that grateful. Feeling blessed is a great way to feel. 

I had never really thought about approaching gratitude from the angle of giving opportunities for it to others, but it's an idea that's percolating. 

I want to be clear that I don't mean creating opportunities for others to express gratitude or appreciation to you. It's not about you or what you can get out of it. It's about bestowing that blessed feeling onto someone else.

I'm envisioning more of a pay-it-forward-meets-acts-of-kindness kind of thing where the side effect is that the receiver feels a sense of gratitude. Wouldn't that be wonderful? 

I wonder what would happen if more people made an effort to do just that. What if we intentionally poured into others with no expectation in return? What if we focused on building them up, cheering them on, guiding and supporting them? What if we strived to make others feel worthy and grateful? 


"I am the recipient of many benefits that I do not deserve and did not earn. Someone else paid for them. I am grateful! How do I show my gratitude? By daily pouring into others and passing on to them the things that will allow them to run far and achieve beyond what I have done." - John C. Maxwell


Written by Dr. Ashley Smith

Co-founder of Peak Mind

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