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Career Coach: An Attitude of Gratitude

This month, the Career Coach reminds us that in the month of Thanksgiving, we should all reflect on what we are grateful for.

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson

On 9/11, I was driving home and thinking about the events of five years ago when a group of terrorists changed the lives of so many. I was thinking about how lucky I was. I was stopped at a traffic light. As I waited for the light to change, I watched a police truck come down the off ramp and turn in front of me, siren wailing and lights flashing. I had just enough time to think, "That's odd, the siren should be receding, not approaching," when my car was hit from behind. The car that hit me kept going past me for a short distance, scraping the driver's side of my car and then stopped, wedged against my car.

I turned my eyes to watch as the fleeing suspect emerged from his car and run. I saw police officers leap from their cars to chase after the man. Then I realized that I better get out of my car because it might catch fire. Because I couldn't open the driver's door, I struggled across the passenger seat and opened that door to get out onto the curb. I thought, how lucky I am, that I can still walk and I am still alive. A woman pulled over and persuaded me to get into her car as the fleeing suspect was not yet apprehended. She offered me the use of her cell phone. Her calm demeanor kept me calm.

Yes, I am still recovering from that accident, but the fact is that I am still here. I am grateful for that. I am grateful that I can recover, even though my car, which I owned since it was new (a 1987 Mazda 323) will not recover. My car was totaled, but I was not. For that I am grateful. And it put a new light on 9/11. I am still lucky.

It also reminded me that we cannot waste time. Life is precious and we must seize the day and make the day what we want it to be. At any moment, your life could change. Work on changing it for the better. Don't put off your dreams any longer. Figure out what you need to accomplish your goals and start working on those long-held dreams and make them a reality. Decide what is important to you and focus your energies on those people and activities that bring you the most joy.

This also reminded me that we do not live alone. We all need people to help us in times of need and we should not fear asking for aid when we need help. I have always been reluctant to ask favors of friends or relatives or neighbors. But when they found out about my accident, many volunteered the names of their favorite doctors. Some have driven me to meetings. I could not turn my head to check for blind spots, as my neck was too stiff and I am reluctant to drive. The treatment is helping and I can turn my head now. I am grateful that I will be able to drive again soon.

November is the month in the United States when we celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends. I want to celebrate Thanksgiving with the world, and encourage everyone to be kind to strangers and friends alike. I want to thank the woman driving by who pulled over for a stranger, offering aid. I hope that if I have an opportunity to do the same for someone else some day, that I will be as helpful and kind. I'm glad that I am alive to savor one more day and to share in this gift of life. Sure, I'm still upset about my accident, and I'm angry that the driver of the car that hit me just didn't stop when the police tried to pull him over. But I'm grateful that I am alive and will recover and I'm adopting an attitude of gratitude.

Think about those who have helped you this past year and throughout your life and adopt an attitude of gratitude. Be sure they know you appreciate whatever they did for you. Send a thank you note or email. It could make someone's day. And don't be afraid to help others less fortunate. Sometimes just a smile or a word of encouragement can give someone a big boost. It doesn't take much to make someone's life better. And it could be your own.

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson is grateful that AWN provides this forum for her to express herself and she is grateful to all her recruiting and career coaching clients and students, who she continues to learn from. For a personal career coaching session or to book a speaking engagement, contact Pamela at Pamela is in the market for an AWD vehicle with great fuel economy.