Giving the Gift of Gratitude

Giving the Gift of Gratitude

Gratitude – the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness; a strongfeeling of appreciation to someone or something.  

Gratitude is the one emotion I purposefully focus on each day. It allows me to acknowledge all the good in my life, to positively acknowledge what I have and what others have given me, be it advice, time, or pieces of themselves. It is for this reason that Thanksgiving is my most very favorite holiday. How can one not love a day that celebrates that which you are thankful for with food and no gifts!  

If the world was perfect, I would advocate for changing Thanksgiving Day to Gratitude DayThankfulness and gratitude are similar in that they are words often used to express the benefits we receive in life.   

Gratitude means you are grateful, and you can show it in many ways including helping someone without expecting the return of favor or inviting someone to your home for a meal just because you don’t want them to be alone. Gratitude can be a way of life for someone.  

On the other hand, thankfulness often means nothing more than saying the words, “Thank you.” Saying “thank you” is very goodhowever, it is most often said after you have received the benefit. Unfortunately, it is often a response given on auto pilot. Have you ever been distracted while being served only to wonder later if you remembered to say thank-you? It happens quite often.    

When you develop a gratitude attitude, you are setting yourself up for success.  

Gratitude is perhaps the most important key to finding success and happiness, especially in today’s tumultuous and chaotic word. Just knowing what we appreciate in life means knowing who we are, what matters to us, and what makes each day worthwhile. Paying attention to what we feel grateful for puts us in a positive frame of mind. It connects us to the world around us and to ourselves.   

Regardless of the barriers, finding your way to gratitude is the greatest gift you can give yourself. Think about it, you can’t give gratitude to anyone but yourselfChallenge your inner critical voice. Act grateful and you will find that you are grateful. Try meditation and mindfulness as they allow you to be present with yourself and the life you have. Take the time to realize that bucket list designation, allow yourself to dream, and dream big while you are at it.       

Do not only find your way to gratitude for yourself but do it for those you love. A person with gratitude is a happier person, a healthier person, and a person so much more fun to be around.    

Equally as important, you will find yourself open and willing to express authentic gratitude. What better time than now to celebrate gratitude with family and friends? Let them know how much you appreciate them.

Tip:  Developing the habit of gratitude takes work and commitment. I will admit current events infringe upon my gratitude attitude occasionally. As an antidote, I’ve adopted The Morning Sidekick Journal as a tool to keep me on focus. Iallows me to make a fresh start each day.   

Until next week!  


Mary Patry
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach  
 480.393.0722 (AZ)
 [email protected]

Let’s Talk sponsored by an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry. 

The Day the World Took Notice

The Day the World Took Notice

September 11, 2001, the day the world stopped to watch in horror as the World Trade Center’s two iconic towers came tumbling down. The day the largest and most influential country’s military headquarters, the Pentagon, was attacked by a single suicide attack plane. The day the voices of the cockpit recording of the highjacked United Airlines Flight 93, before it crashed in a field in Pennsylvania, would be etched in our memories forever. The day the USA was attacked by foreign terrorists resulting in the loss of 2,996 people with over 6,000 people injured not counting the brave first responders still fighting to recover from toxic exposure.   

The September 11th terrorist attacks put the world on notice. The terrorists underestimated our resilience and capability to love one another. The world banded together as we worked through the grief and shock of such a horrendous act. No one old enough to understand the significance of the events has forgotten where they were and what they were doing that day. I still feel the fear and emotions of not reaching my NYC based daughter for over 24 hours after the event. It was a day we all promised to never forget.    

Yet, we seem to be forgetting.  

Today, there is a growing divide fueled by extremists and purposeful rhetoric intended to break us down as a society. The way we behave to each other as fellow citizens makes it hard to remember the promises we made to each other after 9/11.   

The division and hate we are seeing expressed every day in the news and social media is tearing us apart. Acts of domestic terrorism and mass murder threaten with the potential of becoming numb to them. The use of toxic, derogatory, and even vulgar language between professionals on business sites like LinkedIn in incredulous. The acceptance of bias threatens to push us back 100 years as a society.    

Social media is not the cause, nor is it the mainstream media. We own it.  

Social media is a tool with the potential to positively impact human behavior. Social media gives us access to diversity of opinion and thought from different cultures and regions of the world. This access has the power to broaden our minds and challenge our thinking. Most importantly, it gives us knowledge and access to people across the globe, enabling respect for people outside of our small circle of life.  

The divide we are now experiencing is something we have done to ourselves by our own closed mindedness. We’ve dug our heals in and built a resistance to question our commitment to our position. Closed minds, close minds all around us.   

The Challenge 

If we own the problem, can we not also own the solution? A famous George Bernard Shaw quote states, “Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.The challenge is that closed-minded people don’t know they are closed minded. When was the last time you heard anyone brag that they were closed minded?  

Another challenge is people’s natural fear of being wrong. Fear locks your mind like a death trap. People, especially leaders, are stubborn and confident in their convictions. That is what makes them leaders, their convictions. The fear of failure further hardens their convictions. They avoid looking weak, foolish, or “wishy washy.” Unfortunately, this can lead them into a state of bullying through disagreements in their position.  

Opening Our Minds 

We have choices. If we open our minds, others will open their minds to us. It will take courage to express and accept your closed mind and understand that there are some things that are very hard, if not impossible to change. For example, my first reaction to this was to say, “my core values are nonnegotiable. Even when writing it I could tell that my mind was closed to changing my core values. Should I not be open to testing the bias and beliefs they are built on?  

When was the last time you learned anything while talking? Never. Our biggest prohibitory to an open mind is our mouth. 

Who do you hang out with? Are they all like-minded? When was the last time you intentionally sought to understand someone with a difference of opinion or someone who could expand your thinking? 

When was the last time you said out loud, “I don’t want to hear it.” I know when my last time was. It was a few days ago. Fortunately, a dear friend gently called me on it. (Thank you, Friend. You know who you are.)    

What is the risk of listening? What are the risks of trying someone else’s ideas? As a person who likes to be in control (yes that would be me), I find that when I give up control, it is like taking a vacation.  Interestingly, when I sit back, I can see how others feel respected, valued, and energized.    

If you are still reading, thank you for allowing me to share my heart.  

Until next time, I will leave you to ponder your thoughts as we take the time to remember the day the towers fell, the memories of lives lost, and our promise to never forget. My hope is for you to stand with me as leaders in a quest to close to the divide.   


Mary Patry
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach  
 480.393.0722 (AZ)
 [email protected]

Let’s Talk sponsored by an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry. 

Life happens…and then I learn.

Life happens…and then I learn.

“I Have Learned” has shown up on the internet many times over the last 20 years under many versions attributed to various authors.  

The first time I was exposed to it was April 1999. This very long poem was printed on a sheet of paper found in my then recently departed husband’s, Tony Leonardo, file folder of personal inspirational poems. My head was not on straight at the time, and I was not yet able to absorb the meaning of this poem, much less read without tears. I recently rediscovered the file folder. Finding it again opened the door to contemplating my life lessons and sparked my curiosity about the author.  

My search led me to a short article attributing the poem to Kathy Kane Hansen.  

The 2008 article provides the original prose and informs us that Ms. Hansen is the original author and that it was written around 1971. My continued search to learn more about Ms. Hansen, her purpose in sharing her lessons learned, and where might she be now hit a brick wall.  

Nevertheless, I find myself continually reflecting on how these “I Have Learned” lessons apply to my life, and this reflection encourages me to journal my thoughts. Without a doubt, all of my greatest lessons were learned from my greatest challenges. I am inspired to share the poem and my reflections in memory of all the people who influenced me, including Tony, my parents, and other loved ones no longer with me.   

“I Have Learned” 

by Kathy Kane Hansen 1971  And… by Mary Patry 2019 

I’ve learned – that you cannot make someone love you. All you can do is be someone who can be loved.  The rest is up to them.  

And I’ve learned – that I must love myself first to be open to love and that love from others is a gift, not an entitlement.   

I’ve learned – that no matter how much I care, some people just don’t care back.  

And I’ve learned – that my caring for others is not a reciprocal state but one from my heart.  

I’ve learned – that it takes years to build up trust, and only seconds to destroy it.  

And I’ve learned – that my integrity is too precious to compromise for any reason.    

I’ve learned – that it’s not what you have in your life but who you have in your life that counts.   

And I’ve learned – material belongings are just things; people are what matter most.  

I’ve learned – that you can get by on charm for about fifteen minutes. After that, you’d better know something. 

And I’ve learned – that charm is fleeting; substance survives all challenges and circumstances.  

I’ve learned – that you shouldn’t compare yourself to the best others can do.  But to the best, you can do.  

And I’ve learned – that seeking to be the best me is far more rewarding than worrying about how I compare to others.   

I’ve learned – that it’s not what happens to people that’s important. It’s what they do about it.   

And I’ve learned – shit happens. My ability to pick myself back up is all that matters.   

I’ve learned – that you can do something in an instant that will give you heartache for life 

And I’ve learned – to take a breath, ask clarifying questions, and count to 5 before putting my foot in my mouth.  

I’ve learned – that no matter how thin you slice it, there are always two sides. 

And I’ve learned – not to fall prey to the stories people tell themselves as well as those I tell myself.   

I’ve learned – that it’s taking me a long time to become the person I want to be.  

And I’ve learned – I am a work in progress, living a life of trial and errors to become my better self.   

I’ve learned – that it’s a lot easier to react than it is to think.  

And I’ve learned – sometimes it is okay to do nothing.  

I’ve learned – that you should always leave loved ones with loving words. It may be the last time you see them 

And I’ve learned – the hard way that each goodbye or good night might be your last. Don’t waste them. 

I’ve learned – that you can keep going long after you think you can’t.  

And I’ve learned – that I am much more resilient than I realize.  

I’ve learned – that we are responsible for what we do, no matter how we feel. 

And I’ve learned – that we cannot blame others for our decisions and actions. The buck stops here.  

I’ve learned – that either you control your attitude, or it controls you.  

And I’ve learned – no good comes when I have a bad attitude and go to a dark place.   

I’ve learned – that regardless of how hot and steamy a relationship is at first, the passion fades and there had better be something else to take its place.  

And I’ve learned – friendship and laughter are the foundation of long-term passionate relationships.   

I’ve learned – that heroes are the people who do what has to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences.  

And I’ve learned – there are few true heroes in the world. Those that have performed heroic acts were open to stepping up with courage at the time.  

I’ve learned – that learning to forgive takes practice 

And I’ve learned – forgiveness is my best policy. 

I’ve learned – that there are people who love you dearly but just don’t know how to show it.  

And I’ve learned – people often show their love for you in other ways, in addition to flowers and I love you.  

I’ve learned – that money is a lousy way of keeping score.  

And I’ve learned – that money is a lousy indicator of success.  

I’ve learned – that my best friend and I can do anything or nothing and have the best time.  

And I’ve learned – that my best friend and I do not need anything to have the best time together.  

I’ve learned – that sometimes the people you expect to kick you when you’re down will be the ones to help you get back up.  

And I’ve learned – that sometimes people will surprise you when you least expect their kindness and consideration.   

I’ve learned – that sometimes when I’m angry, I have the right to be angry, but that doesn’t give me the right to be cruel.  

And I’ve learned – that there will be times when I am angry and reflecting that anger onto others is not good for anyone, including me.  

I’ve learned – that true friendship continues to grow, even over the longest distance. Same goes for true love.  

And I’ve learned – that true friendships last no matter where you go in the world. It only takes a phone call or facetime to reconnect.  

I’ve learned – that just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have.  

And I’ve learned – that my expectations for love may not match those whom I love. It is okay if we both know what to expect.  

I’ve learned – that maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you’ve had and what you’ve learned from them and less to do with how many birthdays you’ve celebrated.  

And I’ve learned – there is a difference between my age and the wisdom of maturity. My graying hair and wrinkles do not define me. I am the sum of my experience.  

I’ve learned – that you should never tell a child their dreams are unlikely or outlandish. Few things are more humiliating, and what a tragedy it would be if they believed it.  

And I’ve learned – I benefit from allowing myself the freedom of childlike hopes and dreams. My world would be very gray without rainbows. I would not expect any less from a child 

I’ve learned – that your family won’t always be there for you. It may seem funny, but people you aren’t related to can take care of you and love you and teach you to trust people again. Families aren’t biological.  

And I’ve learned – that my family won’t always be there for me and I cannot expect them to be. My chosen family of friends have taught me to trust people, and they know they can trust me. I know families do not need to be biological.  

I’ve learned – that no matter how good a friend is, they’re going to hurt you every once in a while, and you must forgive them for that.  

And I’ve learned – that I’ve made mistakes and that others will too. I choose to forgive, in hopes they will decide to forgive me also.   

I’ve learned – that it isn’t always enough to be forgiven by others. Sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself.  

And I’ve learned – I find it easier to forgive others over myself. I must continue to work on being kinder to myself.  

I’ve learned – that no matter how bad your heart is broken the world doesn’t stop for your grief.  

And I’ve learned – that I won’t die from a broken heart even when I feel I will. I know I will grow from it. 

I’ve learned – that our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.  

And I’ve learned – my early life experiences sucked and were not my fault. I do not wish they were different as they helped shape who I am.  

I’ve learned – that sometimes when my friends fight, I’m forced to choose sides even when I don’t want to.  

And I’ve learned – to distance myself from friends in a fight as I want to be there for both of them when it is over.  

I’ve learned – that just because two people argue, it doesn’t mean they don’t love each other And just because they don’t argue, it doesn’t mean they do.  

And I’ve learned – arguments do not define my love for you and that making up is so sweet. I’ve also learned that not arguing means that I don’t care enough to bother.  

I’ve learned – that sometimes you have to put the individual ahead of their actions.  

And I’ve learned – that my caring for you is more important than the outcome.  

I’ve learned – that we don’t have to change friends if we understand that friends change.  

And I’ve learned – my friends grow, and I grow. It is delightful when find we have landed at the same place.    

I’ve learned – that you shouldn’t be so eager to find out a secret. It could change your life forever 

And I‘ve learned – that not all secrets need to be known. Some are left buried.  

I’ve learned – that two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different.  

And I’ve learned – that perspectives are in the eye of the beholder, and we can learn from our differences. 

I’ve learned – that no matter how you try to protect your children, they will eventually get hurt and you will hurt in the process.  

And I’ve learned – that to expect to protect my kids from all harm does more harm than good. I’ve learned to be ready to catch them when they fall.  

I’ve learned – that there are many ways of falling and staying in love.  

And I’ve learned – love comes and stays with me when my heart is open with realistic eyes and the mind to remember why.  

I’ve learned – that no matter the consequences, those who are honest with themselves get farther in life.  

And I’ve learned – lying to myself is the worst form of dishonesty and will only come back to bite me in the butt. Don’t. 

I’ve learned – that no matter how many friends you have if you are their pillar, you will feel lonely and lost at the times you need them most. 

And I’ve learned – that if I am always the pillar, they aren’t my friend and that I need to be open to people who can be there for me too.  

I’ve learned – that your life can be changed in a matter of hours by people who don’t even know you.  

And I’ve learned – that when I pay attention, I am often surprised by how good people are when I allow them to be.  

I’ve learned – that even when you think you have no more to give when a friend cries out to you, you will find the strength to help.  

And I’ve learned – that I can find a reserve I did not know I had when someone I care about needs me. I am resourceful, especially when I am needed.  

I’ve learned – that writing, as well as talking, can ease emotional pains.  

And I’ve learned – that when I journal, I have the best conversations with myself.  

I’ve learned – that the paradigm we live in is not all that is offered to us.  

And I’ve learned – that I am more than my paradigm, and I don’t let it rule me.  

I’ve learned – that credentials on the wall do not make you a decent human being.  

And I’ve learned – that I am a decent human with no need for letters behind my name.    

I’ve learned – that the people you care most about in life are taken from you too soon.  

And I’ve learned – life is too short no matter how long my loved ones live. Enjoy each other today. 

I’ve learned – that although the word “love” can have many different meanings, it loses value when overly used.  

And I’ve learned – when I say I love you too often, I am desperate to convince my heart that it feels something I think it should. I’ve been there – have you? 

I’ve learned – that it’s hard to determine where to draw the line between being nice and not hurting people’s feelings and standing up for what you believe.  

And I’ve learned – that I will always stand up for what I believe and must use decorum and politeness while maintaining that stance. Integrity and kindness are not divisive.    

I invite my readers and followers to reflect on their life lessons. I trust that along the way you will be amazed at the wisdom you’ve accumulated. To make it easier, I created a tool to support you on this journey – link here to download: Life Lessons Worksheet 

Until next week, I wish you a safe Memorial Holiday weekend.  


ITeffectivity LLC was founded in 2013 with the mission of helping IT Leaders bring order to their ever-changing world. Since then, Mary has advised over 80 leaders on behalf of Fortune 100 firms to small non-profits.  


Mary Patry
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach  
 480.393.0722 (AZ)
 [email protected]

Let’s Talk sponsored by an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry.