Tag Archives: loss

The Power of Politeness

“No thank you” or “No, thank you”? Have you heard the one about the panda who walks into a cafe with a gun, orders a sandwich, fires the gun, and leaves? Ask British author, Lynn Truss. Her 2003 bestseller “Eats, shoots and leaves” bemoans the lost art of punctuation.

But what might be a case of “syntactic ambiguity” – when a reader/listener can reasonably interpret one sentence as having more than one possible structure – is actually me bemoaning the lost art of politeness.

On certain, not all, occasions lately, what’s been heard is silence, i.e. no thank you’s. Does the receiver of an act of kindness assume the giver has somehow understood “thank you” through telepathy? Or perhaps such an acknowledgement is passé or is rejected because it’s too de rigueur?

Look, I’m not from the #smartgen nor the #nextgen but from the #othergen. And I’m old school so that my favourite pastime is writing and sending notes of thanks, yes, paper and yes, snail mail. I purchase “thank you” cards so often that my friends have started gifting them to me and you can guess who receives the first one out of the pack.

Our lives are fast and fleeting. Has “thank you” disappeared along with “please, may I, pardon me”? Please say it isn’t so. The foundation of relationships is built on gratitude.  When you experience loss in life and need help,  what will ground you is gratitude. Wharton Professor Adam Grant says it best in his 2013 best-selling book, “Give and Take” and his 2016 TED talk , He describes how people are givers, takers, and matchers and how most effective leaders are givers.


When someone gives, offers, surrenders, volunteers, sacrifices their time to help you, will you remember to say those famous almost-forgotten last yet powerful words, “THANK YOU”?  Because if you don’t, you might not get another chance to say these words again. Ever.

The Power of Hope

One of my favorite things to do is write “thank you” notes, not virtual but paper notes you post by tossing them in one of those big boxes on your street corner.  They’re still there. You could say I start each day grateful for being grateful.  Another is when I talk to people, I love  to look and listen for positivity.  So you could say I hope for Hope.  And my final confession is I can easily spend an hour or two listening to convocation addresses. This “secret” pleasure helps me aspire to inspire.

Yes, I’m the annoying person who jumps out of bed every morning, not with a partner (happily single) but with hope.  When all you have is hope, you jump … you jump for joy, for love, for the next big idea, for whatever the new day brings!

However, for some and understandably so, loss and suffering make it difficult to get out of bed.  Some fear having expectations because the disappointments are too big to bear. Some are grateful just ‘having a cup” because asking if your cup is half empty or half full would hurt too much to even ponder.  And some start their sentences with “But the problem is ….”

We all have and will continue to experience loss – large losses like losing your identity, your job, your love, your business, your purpose in life and small losses like losing your car keys, forgetting a name, sometimes your smartphone (maybe that’s a large loss).  This is what we call living.

Here’s how hope transcends loss.  Listen to Sheryl Sandberg’s recent convocation address to the grads at Virginia Tech.  Listen with or without judgement.  Given Ms. Sandberg’s position of privilege and working as the COO at Facebook, some cynics refuse to acknowledge and sympathize.  But we’re all human and when you suddenly lose your life partner, well, I feel very sad and sorry for her loss.

In her convocation address, Ms. Sandberg’s voice quivered and cracked slightly as she gave us a glimpse of her heart still raw and reeling from her loss – tender, emotional, and vulnerable.   She continues boldly and brightly, wishing the graduates hope.  She showed them the way to find hope:

“Seek shared experiences with all kinds of people.  Write shared narratives that create the world you want to live in.  Build shared hope in the communities you join and the communities you form.  And above all, find gratitude for the gift of life itself and the opportunities it provides for meaning, for joy, and for love.”

The power of hope is about setting expectations and intentions, building dreams, big dreams, and believing you can make and leave the world a better place.  “Resilience is a muscle. which we need to build.” says Ms. Sandberg.  Why not exercise our resilience muscle first thing in the morning by jumping out of bed?  Jump because you’ve been given another day. Jump because you are alive and kicking.  And jump because together, we can make a big leap forward.