Happy Thanksgiving from Colorado! In preparation for the day I reached out this week to a few friends to share my appreciation. If you missed a personal note, I do want to say “Happy Thanksgiving!”
As I engaged in a few personal conversations of thanks this week I saw some relational pieces that I nearly missed. I’m calling it my matrix of gratitude. Perhaps my story will stir your thinking on your own relational matrix. Maybe a few minutes of reflection will result in giving thanks beyond just a simple “I’m thankful for you.” The matrix is a reflective grid of connections, events, and moments that really have been defining. The true idea of the matrix has a pattern and a starting point. Taking time to trace back to the beginning may give some insight for the matrix formed. The matrix can include family, friendship, mentorship, or leadership relationships. The inspiration for the idea started this week in a conversation of thanksgiving with Steve. While he started as a client, he has become a close friend.
Steve and I met three years ago while he was working as a CEO. We started working together in a coaching relationship. He was facing some significant challenges within his organization. We quickly moved from executive coaching, to team building, then a quick turn to mediation of the business partnership. The discussions surfaced the source of their tension and division. The partnership was at odds, divided by their vision, strategies, and financial priorities. It was really hard for my friend. A merger had ended in a mess. In the midst of the difficulties Steve was able to make a honorable and healthy transition from the company he founded. It was a privilege to serve him for my part during a very difficult time.
Steve was looking for work and took an out of state short term assignment as a CMO. He has a brilliant mind and great depth of experience so he’s in high demand. One day last year I needed some help. I set aside a day for some planning of my own. I was able to borrow Steve’s creativity for a strategy and planning session of my own. At the end of our time he mentioned that he would like to recommend me as a speaker for a conference taking place in the spring. His recommendation launched me as speaker into a sphere that would have been beyond my reach. That speaking engagement gave the creditability for a publisher to get behind Catalytic Conversations a team building tool I had developed. It was retitled and published as The Conversationalist. A working relationship that over 3 years defined us both in work and friendship.
There’s more story, detail, and relationship connection all creating a matrix that has been a mutual blessing. Earlier this week I was able to express my thanks giving some detail that was important to remember. What’s interesting, and nearly missed by me during this Thanksgiving season, is that since our connection and time together, some distance has developed since late last year. At one point, we were bonded by some common goals, conflict, then resolution. Then a time of support, connection, and encouragement. Yet, by the beginning of this year the natural course of priorities, commitments, and natural circles seem to create a drift. A few months of misses allowed me to miss the opportunity to give thanks.
Relational drift happens in our life. The matrix of gratitude stops the drift. It requires a few moments to reflect on the months and years of events that bind us together. It’s looking at the patterns and connection points that set things in motion to secure our friendship. It’s the discipline of celebration the present benefit of how things are different, better, and enriched by our time together.
Take time for to consider the matrix to a few of your key relationships, go back to when you first met, write down a few points, maybe even mapping it out on a timeline. Then look to see where those key points intersected with your life and gave scope to your matrix. In the end your gratitude will keep you from taking for granted those who matter most. Your conversation will be filled thanksgiving for the past, where you are today, and may even help you intentionally engage your friendship in the future.