The Gratitude Mile

The Gratitude Mile

April 21, 2020

Tucked away discretely alongside a collection of books are cards written from his own clients. AJ, like me, finds those notes of appreciation more meaningful than nearly anything else in his business. I witness firsthand how many hours he works before someone expresses that kind of gratitude towards him.

My wife Brooke loves to run. Besides consistently hitting the pavement several times a week, she reads running articles and books. One of these books (“Let Your Mind Run” by Deena Kastor) inspired her to begin a gratitude journal this past week. She lists ten things every day that she is grateful for—and the rule is to never repeat yourself.

During this unprecedented time, she inspires me to also focus on gratitude.

I speak for every one of us at Conestoga; many of our most powerful feelings of gratitude come from the gratitude of our clients. We freely admit that our personal identities are interlaced with our work—it is a byproduct of emotionally engaging with those we serve. When a client expresses real gratitude, it validates that we are who we want to be as a company, and as people.

Interestingly, our clients’ versions of their own gratitude list towards us are not what you might expect.

In my career as an advisor, no one has said “Conner, your ability to generate better risk-adjusted returns in my portfolio is meaningful to me, and I appreciate it. Your investment tax planning was a light in my day. That Social Security analysis really makes me warm and tingly inside.” While important examples of what we do for many clients, those are not what we hear about.

They thank us for simplifying and navigating Medicare when they were already overwhelmed with retiring. They thank us for the extra call to reassure them that they can afford to buy their first home, and for slowing them down to think through their choices. They thank us for their favorite flowers on their hospital bed stand, the long conversations en route to stepping away from their business, and the golf round they finally played without once thinking about their money. Clients have thanked me for a good night’s sleep, pushing them to ask for a pay raise, and for helping with their aging mother’s (or their son’s!) finances.

Brooke’s favorite weekend of the year is not Christmas—it’s in March when we run the Hot Chocolate 15k under the Space Needle. On mile 7, she decided we were each going to do a Gratitude Mile. Translated, for one mile she listed aloud what she was grateful to have in her life. She did it because her mind went from thinking about how difficult her run was to how fortunate she was to even be running. Gratitude helps the great things in life loom large in her mind, and makes life in the moment more enjoyable. She actually felt physically better after that mile, too.

I write this not to push you into penning your own gratitude journal (though if you do, I would be thrilled considering what science has to say on the subject). We believe in sharing the best of ourselves with our clients. Today, gratitude was top of mind. With gratitude, we can recognize value independent of monetary worth. Especially now, it can make our lives better.


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