Paul Butler | Gratitude before goals

Paul Butler

Thanksgiving was a day most of us as Americans pause to give thanks for what we have, just hours before we flocked to the stores to buy what we don’t have. I guess one positive aspect of these strange days of COVID-19 is that our fingers did the walking online to click and buy rather than hordes of us descending upon the mall.

I’m hoping after this Thanksgiving, more than ever, as business owners and employees we each paused to give thanks for what we can be grateful for ahead of thinking about our goals and aspirations for the future.

Grateful people are great people to work for and work with. There’s a peace that seems to pass all understanding, which I’ve observed firsthand in business owners our organization has worked for. They’re relaxed. They’re calm. They’re comfortable to be around.

As an employee for 20 years in different parts of the world, I much preferred working for a boss who exhibited gratitude. There was a gracefulness to them and a consistent appreciation of the work being done for them. Such business owners and bosses were still aspirational, but their gratitude for today was greater than their hopes for tomorrow.

I’ve had the joy of working alongside many fellow employees who also, regardless of their circumstances, shone a spirit of gratitude and it showed in how they worked.

Pride counts his blessings

I’ll always remember, as a regional finance director for Marriott International Hotels, checking in to one of our properties in Norwich, England, late one evening prior to a management meeting set to take place the following morning. I couldn’t help but notice the name badge of the elderly male receptionist. His name was Pride.

I remarked on his rather unique name and, without missing a beat, he looked up from the keyboard and declared confidently that his mother wanted him to always remember he should have pride and what better way than to give her child the name Pride. He explained that his mother instilled in him that, regardless of one’s circumstance, there is always much to be grateful for. “Every day, she made me count my blessings.” 

I replied how nice that was as I looked at my cell phone for any last-minute text messages from my boss. He saw I was distracted and emphasized, “No, she really did encourage me to write down my blessings every day. Look at this, Mr. Butler.”

With that, Pride pulled out of his inside pocket a worn and tattered little journal and proceeded to flick through about five years of daily — and I mean daily — blessings. It was with great pride that Pride went on to tell me he had about eight of such similar five-year pocket journals back at home, each headed “Gratitude before Goals.”

What stuck in my mind most about Pride was the way his eyes shone. He was alert, present and full of joy. I could see now more clearly the way his moniker came through in the way he carried himself and the way he looked in his standard-issue staff uniform. His was spick and span, with shoes you could see your face in. I’ll always remember Pride and his daily record of gratitude.

Just after Thanksgiving can be a wonderful time to list all that you can be grateful for as a business owner, as an employee and as a human being in general. I’m grateful for my faith, my health, living in the United States, my children, our friends and our business, and so much more. How about you?

Yes, I’m excited about 2021 and the goals my wife and I will set for ourselves personally and to map out our business aspirations for the year ahead, but may we never lose sight of what we have, while setting our focus on what we want.

Let us each take a page from Pride’s journal for 2021: “Gratitude before Goals.”

Paul Butler is a Santa Clarita resident and a client partner with Newleaf Training and Development of Valencia ( The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Signal newspaper. For questions or comments, email Butler at [email protected]

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