Updated: Oct 24
Why "enough" is the secret to gratitude, giving back, and encouraging success in others.
This is one of those blogs that I simultaneously find challenging to write but flows from my fingers like a river into a tributary. My goal was to write and publish this in a much more immediate fashion, but I needed time to process not only the event itself, but the affairs preceding the inevitable conclusion. Frankly, I’ve had enough, and I’m borderline angry with myself for holding in my frustration as long as I have. You might think I’m about to write about my complete distaste of being asked to tip by every retailer at every opportunity, but you’d be wrong. That blog is coming down the road – just not today.
A while back, I sent an email to congratulate someone on a new hire they had made – one they were rightfully excited about. To be fully transparent, I collaborated with the person and their company years ago, and we didn’t always see eye-to-eye. However, I wanted to take an opportunity to rise above this individual’s pettiness of the past, so I sent the email below. While the words are verbatim, for obvious reasons, any references to the person or company in question have been removed:
Candidly, I paused before sending it for a moment, as most of my interactions with the recipient of this email have been anything but positive. By all accounts, I did an outstanding job during my brief collaboration at the company in question and left of my own volition for reasons that aren’t germane to this blog. Since my departure, the exchanges I have had with both the individual and the company have been strained while, at times, peppered with petty accusations regarding the editorial decisions relating to the content I create. Even so, I thought it necessary to be magnanimous, so I hit the send button about three minutes after I wrote the email. While I wasn’t surprised that I received a response within ten minutes, I was utterly stunned at the tone and tenor of it. Like the above, the words are verbatim, save for any references to the person or individual company.
Even after the weeks and months since I received this email have passed, I am still gobsmacked by the sheer temerity and arrogance of this person’s response. Here I was, doing my part to bury any of the past weirdness on their end by writing a heartfelt note of congratulations, and my reward was a sharp note expressing dissatisfaction with my public response to the news. Honestly, I found the fact that the person was “disappointed” as odd as I both loved and commented on EVERY single post about the announcement well before my initial email was sent. Even further, suggesting that I, as a former colleague, had any debt that needed to be repaid is nothing short of ludicrous. Without going into detail, my relationship there was a simple transaction: I was hired to do a job for a specific compensation, and I did that job to the best of my abilities until the moment I left – period. As with any similar agreement, it was a simple transaction that benefited both parties. In other words, I was under no obligation to interact with my former colleague on or off social media. As you can imagine, I had enough and very quickly fired off the following response:
I can’t recall feeling better about sending an email in my professional life. In fact, the only one that rivals it is the one that contained my official disengagement letter that I sent many years ago to the same individual. I had expected to hear back from the instigator, but I’m happy to share that my note above ended the exchange.
For many years, I had quietly accepted my former colleague's behavior: the out-of-the-blue emails and phone calls suggesting edits to my content to highlight their organization in their skewed light, the unsolicited (and quite negative) commentary about my volunteer activities, and even the unsavory remarks about competing outfits in the industry. Sadly, I think my silent acceptance did nothing but give some sort of tacit approval to this person’s behavior. Clearly, I had numerous opportunities to directly push back; instead I did nothing. I thought my lack of engagement communicated my disagreement at the time, but I was wrong.
I had to have enough – in more ways than one – to fully understand that. I certainly have had enough of my former colleague's hostile, negative, and antagonistic communications. However, I also know that I "have" enough which has given me the ability to give back by volunteering my time, express sincere gratitude, and contribute to the success of others. The knowledge of having enough is truly a gift.
I received the below anecdote from a friend, which sums up the situation perfectly:
“At a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island, Kurt Vonnegut informs his pal, Joseph Heller, that their host, a hedge fund manager, had made more money in a single day than Heller had earned from his wildly popular novel Catch-22 over its entire history.
Heller responded, ‘Yes, but I have something he will never have – enough.”
I’m fortunate that I have enough. Sadly, I don’t think the person who sent me that sad email will ever have enough.