Personal Log: What I’m Thankful For This Year

Published on November 23, 2017 by R "Ray" Wang

Take The Time To Think This Thanksgiving

Time to think is the new luxury.  I’ve been carving out more and more time to think and it’s been refreshing.  The Thanksgiving break uniquely provides a four-day stretch to contemplate the year gone by and the closure of the year ahead.

What I’ve realized is that I often do not have the opportunity to express appreciation and gratitude enough.  There never seems to be enough time, so this is my attempt, at least while I have time to think to provide a perspective on thanks.  Here’s what I’m appreciative of this Thanksgiving:

  1. Life and health.  The ultimate on the list, health provides the foundation for the pursuit of happiness.  I never take it for granted, yet I never explicitly acknowledge good health.  This year, I’ve watched many friends battle illness after years of not taking care of themselves.  It’s a good reminder that life is short and that you should make the most of it.  So take care of your mind, body, and soul from time to time.  Talk to those older than you and understand what they did or didn’t do to take care of their health.  Most friends are happy to share what they’ve learned.
  2. Great personal networks.  In an era of access versus ownership, friendship and loyalty seem to be fleeting these days.   Family does come first but today’s definition of family often extends to the urban tribe and those who rise beyond self-interest.   My authentic friends transcend time, money, age, and career.  It’s a bit like first love, you know it when you see it.  The world keeps getting smaller yet the networks keep getting bigger.
  3. Change agents.  I’ve really appreciated the folks who not only embrace change, but also affect positive change.  Change agents provide infectious change. They pay it forward. The often perform random acts of kindness.  They lead by example.  They share in the rewards and often do not seek credit.  I’m thankful to be surrounded by clients, colleagues, friends, and family who are change agents in their own right.  My parents have been change agents for quite some time and the small and big changes they affected taught me great lessons in the impact every one of us has within us.
  4. Good in humanity still trumps evil.  All the crazy and biased news reporting, 24 hour news cycles, and reporting of evil and terror in the world, has only emboldened goodness.  I see it all around us.  Those who fight oppression, those who are fighting sexual harassment, those who are fighting for equal opportunity.  This year has shown how these issues are human not partisan issues.  Recent revelations have demystified false narratives and hopefully we will all see truth and fight the evil around us not as partisans but as humans.
  5. Capitalism.   While so many folks are bashing capitalism, we often forget that this economic system and ideology creates the incentives that allow for advancement, innovation and success.   The system is not perfect but it has given us more opportunity than other systems.   Despite this, we see private property, accumulation of wealth, competitive markets, voluntary exchange, pricing, and wage labor are all under attack as many have been left out.  The results of inequality may not be the flaw of capitalism itself but the inability of political institutions to enable equal opportunity and free market access.  This remains one of the largest challenges ahead of us.
  6. Great mentors.  I’m in the process of finding my kitchen sink of advisors.  I’ve often served as a mentor for others and enjoy the process.  In some cases, I’ve had great reverse mentoring experiences.  It’s taken me several decades to realize why leaders need good mentors.  Along with time to think, the ability to walk through new challenges with those you trust is something I am thankful for as I build out a new group of advisors to learn from.
  7. Impact of exponential technologies.  The pace of innovation in technology remains lighting fast.   Those on the cutting edge of new nano-technology, bio batteries, graphyne, stem cell research, CRISPR, material science, brain wave research, artificial intelligence, and other exponential technologies have an opportunity to transform business models, society, and the environment around us.  The world we live in is amazing and I am thankful to be living in such a great era of innovation and discovery.

Thank you to all the great people I’ve met, the wonderful team we’ve built, the opportunities that have been bestowed upon us.  Reach out to someone you love, and take the time to appreciate what’s around you while we are alive.  Make the most of what you do and pay it forward when you can.  More importantly, thank you all for the most valuable thing in life, your time to engage with me.

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