The Unintended Consequences of “Five Words of Gratitude”

How do you express gratitude to the people in your life who have done more for you than you can say…in only five words? This is the challenge and opportunity I’d like to present.

After I published my last full blog asking “What if…?” I pursued a little “what if?” of my own that has had profound and delightful unintended consequences. I had read an article in the New York Times about the Webby Awards which are given out each year by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. I was fascinated by a rule of the Webby Awards that is enthusiastically enforced by booing audience members: no acceptance speech can be more than five words long. Wow! It makes me actually want to watch the Webby Awards program!

The article offered several exemplary brief speeches, including these four that I particularly like:

  • “Had we lost, we’d sue.” American Bar Association Journal in 2008.
  • “Making life terrible for dictators.” Human Rights Watch in 2010.
  • “Donating my unused word.” Corporate Social Responsibility Amalgamated in 2012.
  • “The Oscars should do this.” Actor Kevin Spacey in 2013.

Inspired by the Webby Award’s succinct acceptance speeches, I began to wonder: What if…I asked people to express Heart of Gratitudetheir gratitude to significant people in their lives in only five words? What could they say? What would they say? Would they even do it?” I decided to create an online Google form where people could post their five words of gratitude to another person and invite people to share them. I┬ádid not blog this at the time and decided to only post it in LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, and made it the subject of my monthly “marketing” newsletter (because I really hate having to do marketing anyway and this seemed more fun than marketing). All of this was just for fun and I was not counting on having many, if any responses. Well, I was wrong. I got a bunch of responses. Here are just a few:

  • To a sibling: “Thank you for graciously listening.”
  • To a child: “Your smile makes my day!”
  • To a colleague: “Deep thinker with a conscience.”
  • To a deceased parent: “Inspiration to overcome obstacles.”
  • To a patient: “Honored by attending your childbirth.”

Because so many of the responses are very powerful and I have been deeply touched by them, I decided to share this invitation a little more widely through my blog. I have been asked whether I will share the responses and, yes, I will. However, I am not exactly sure how and when I will do that. For now I will continue to compile them and in the near future I will be sharing many of them in future blogs.

In the meantime, if you would like to contribute, please click on this link: Five Words of Gratitude.

Be Greater. Do Good. Everyday. (Those are not my five words of gratitude but someone did suggest they could be.)

Tom

Author: Tom Klaus

I am convinced the secret to almost any good thing happening among people is relational trust. Want to be loved by your spouse, children, and family? Want to work well with others? Want to be an effective leader? Want to help your neighborhood, community, state, or country change for the good? Want world peace...actually, peace with anyone? Building relational trust is when fear, animosity, conflict, and the status quo begins to transform into cooperation, respect, collaboration, peace, and working together for social change and the greater good of all. A good day for me is when I can help social profit, nonprofit, and public leaders and their organizations grasp the importance of relational trust, let it guide their decision making, and inform their strategy. This is just one of the ways that I am animating and equipping leaders, organizations, and communities to lead change for the greater good. Learn more about me, my work, and how you can join me in creating tenacious change: tenaciouschange.us.

2 thoughts on “The Unintended Consequences of “Five Words of Gratitude””

Comments are closed.