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Be grateful for what got you here.

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I had a conversation with my banker the other day and to my surprise, it turned interesting (haha…) when she disclosed some personal information.

It reminded me of two things:

Thing 1. Our business relationships are often so overly transactional that it becomes highly memorable when they turn personal. It builds trust, affinity, and positive impressions of competence very quickly.

Thing 2. No matter how self-made or “bootstrappy” we believe we are, our privilege is given to us or cultivated by key people in our lives, and it’s worth considering who helped us get it.

My banker told me about a time when her husband was very sick and needed to see some specialists and how she was able to help them diagnose the problem by doing some reading.

She happened to have some training in medicine and so was able to decipher some medical journals and that helped them find a cure for her husband’s acute distress.

Now you get insight into a behavior geek’s thought process, LOL, because this caused me to think about all of the people who get medical care and can’t understand the instructions, let alone think critically about differential diagnoses.

That ability to read and engage in powerful logical thought is a serious privilege that some of us take for granted, and it’s often made possible by others in our life.

To actively reflect on this, I often start my courses with an exercise in which we reflect and then talk to each other about what people or influences in our lives got us to where we are now.

My top one is always my mother.

I was the only person in my family to go to college. And she did such a good job that I never stopped…until I earned my PhD and then became a professor for 15 years, LOL. Her influence really did make me a lifelong learner.

More specifically, although she let me fail plenty of times, she was there at some critical moments to steer me away from making decisions that could have completely altered my life trajectory.

The first was that she forced me to go to a private high school, instead of joining my closest friends (mostly really bad influences) at the local public high school. Nothing against public education, but a number of those friends ended up in jail or dead, so yeah…good choice.

The second was the decision to accept my offer to attend the University of Notre Dame (go Irish!). Even though we couldn’t afford it, she convinced me that we’d make it work, and we did.

There were many more, of course.

But those two decisions were pivotal because they put me in contact with all kinds of new reinforcers and new very high caliber friends, teachers, and mentors.

It would bore you beyond tears for me to list even a small portion of these amazing people who have had such a dramatic impact on the trajectory of my life, but they nearly ALL came from those two key decisions driven by my mother.

What are your major influences?

When is the last time you thanked them and showed your gratitude for all that you have now?

Here’s a challenge for you – think of something specific that was a major turning point in your life. Think of the people or person who helped you most. Now, call (or write…or send a quick video) to them and thank them by specifically telling them what they did that made such a difference in your life.

Don’t wait. Do it now.

…and smile while you think about the gift you’ve been given.

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